266. JOHN HOOPER
Illustration -- Portrait of John Hooper
The story, life, and martyrdom of Master John Hooper, bishop of Worcester and Gloucester; burnt for the defence of the gospel at Gloucester, February the ninth, A. D. 1555.OHN Hooper, student and graduate in the university of Oxford, after the study of the sciences, wherein he had abundantly profited and proceeded, through God's secret vocation was stirred with fervent desire to the love and knowledge of the Scriptures: in the reading and searching whereof, as there lacked in him no diligence joined with earnest prayer; so neither wanted unto him the grace of the Holy Ghost to satisfy his desire, and to open unto him the light of true divinity.
Thus Master Hooper, growing more and more, by God's grace, in ripeness of spiritual understanding, and showing withal some sparkles of his fervent spirit, being then about the beginning of the six articles, in the time of King Henry the Eighth, fell eftsoons into displeasure and hatred of certain rabbins in Oxford, who, by and by, began to stir coals against him; whereby, and especially by the procurement of Dr. Smith, he was compelled to void the university; and so, removing from thence, was retained in the house of Sir Thomas Arundel, and there was his steward, till the time that Sir Thomas Arundel, having intelligence of his opinions and religion, which he in no case did favour, and yet exccedingly favouring the person and conditions of the man, found the mcans to send him in a message to the bishop of Winchester, writing his letter privily to the bishop, by conference of learning to do some good upon him; but in any case requiring him to send home his servant to him again.
Winchester, after long conference with Master Hooper four or five days together, when he at length perceived that neither he could do that good which he thought to him, nor that he would take any good at his hand, according to Master Arundel's request, he sent home his servant again; right well commending his learning and wit, but yet bearing in his breast a grudging stomach against Master Hooper still.
It followed not long after this, as malice is always working mischief, that intelligence was given to Master Hooper to provide for himself, for danger that was working against him. Whereupon Master Hooper, leaving Master Arundel's house, and borrowing a horse of a certain friend, (whose life he had saved a little before from the gallows,) took his journey to the sea-side to go to France, sending back the horse again by one, who indeed did not deliver him to the owner. Master Hooper being at Paris, tarried there not long, but in short time returned into England again, and was retained of Master Sentlow, till the time that he was again molested and laid for; whereby he was compelled, under the pretence of being captain of a ship going to Ireland, to take the seas. And so escaped he (although not without extreme peril of drowning) through France, to the higher parts of Germany; where he, entering acquaintance with the learned men, was of them friendly and lovingly entertained, both at Basil, and especially at Zurich, of Master Bullinger, being his singular friend. There also he married his wife, who was a Burgonian, and applied very studiously to the Hebrew tongue.
At length, when God saw it good to stay the bloody time of the six articles, and to give us King Edward to reign over this realm, with some peace and rest unto his gospel, amongst many other English exiles who then repaired homeward, Master Hooper also, moved in conscience, thought not to absent himself; but, seeing such a time and occasion, offered to help forward the Lord's work, to the uttermost of his ability. And so, coming to Master Bullinger, and other of his acquaintance in Zurich, (as duty required,) to give them thanks for their singular kindness and humanity toward him manifold ways declared, with like humanity again purposed to take his leave of them at his departing, and so did. Unto whom Master Bullinger again (who had always a special favour to Master Hooper) spake on this wise:
"Master Hooper," said he, "although we are sorry to part with your company for our own cause, yet much greater causes we have to rejoice, both for your sake, and especially for the cause of Christ's true religion, that you shall now return, out of long banishment, into your native country again; where not only you may enjoy your own private liberty, but also the cause and state of Christ's church, by you, may fare the better; as we doubt not but it shall.
"Another cause, moreover, why we rejoice with you and for you, is this: that you shall remove not only out of exile into liberty; but you shall leave here a barren, a sour, and an unpleasant country, rude and savage; and shall go into a land flowing with milk and honey, replenished with all pleasure and fertility. Notwithstanding, with this our rejoicing one fear and care we have, lest you, being absent, and so far distant from us, or else coming to such abundance of wealth and felicity, in your new welfare and plenty of all things, and in your flourishing honours, where ye shall come, peradventure, to be a bishop, and where ye shall find so many new friends, you will forget us your old acquaintance and well-willers. Nevertheless, howsoever you shall forget and shake us off, yet this persuade yourself, that we will not forget our old friend and fellow Master Hooper. And if you will please not to forget us again, then I pray you let us hear from you."
Wherennto Master Hooper, answering again, first gave to Master Bullinger and the rest right hearty thanks, for that their singular good-will, and undeserved affection, appearing not only now, but at all times towards him: declaring moreover, that as the principal cause of his removing to his country was the matter of religion; so, touching the unpleasantness and barrenness of that conntry of theirs, there was no cause therein why he could not find in his heart to continue his life there, as soon as in any place in the world, and rather than in his own native country, if there were nothing else in his conscience that moved him so to do. And as touching the forgetting of his old friends; although, said he, the remembrance of a man's country naturally doth delight him, neither could he deny, but God had blessed his country of England with many great commodities; yet, neither the nature of country, nor pleasure of commodities, nor newness of friends, should ever induce him to the oblivion of such friends and benefactors, whom he was so entirely bound unto "and therefore you shall be sure," said he, "from time to time to hear from me, and I will write unto you, how it goeth with me. But the last news of all, I shall not be able to write: for there," said he, (taking Master Bullinger by the hand,) "where I shall take most pains, there shall you hear of me to be burned to ashes. And that shall be the last news, which I shall not be able to write unto you, but you shall hear it of me," &c.
To this also may be added another like prophetical demonstration, foreshowing before the manner of his martyrdom wherewith he should glorify God, which was this: When Master Hooper, being made bishop of Worcester and Gloucester, should have his arms given him by the herald, (as the manner is, here in England, every bishop to have his arms assigned unto him,) whether by the appointment of Master Hooper, or by the herald, I have not certainly to say; but the arms which were to him allotted were these: A lamb in a fiery bush, and the sun-beams from heaven descended down upon the lamb; rightly denoting, as it seemed, the order of his suffering, which afterward followed.
But now to the purpose of our story again. Thus when Master Hooper had taken his farewell of Master Bullinger and his friends in Zurich, he made his repair again into England in the reign of King Edward the Sixth, where he, coming to London, used continually to preach, most times twice, at least once, every day; and never failed.
In his sermons, according to his accustomed manner, he corrected sin, and sharply inveighed against the iniquity of the world, and corrupt abuses of the church. The people in great flocks and companies daily came to hear his voice, as the most melodious sound and tune of Orpheus's harp, as the proverb saith; insomuch that oftentimes when he was preaching, the church would be so full, that none could enter further than the doors thereof. In his doctrine he was earnest, in tongue eloquent, in the Scriptures perfect, in pains indefatigable.
Moreover, besides other his gifts and qualities, this is in him to be marvelled, that even as he began, so he continued still unto his life's end. For neither could his labour and pains-taking break him, neither promotion change him, neither dainty fare corrupt him. His life was so pure and good, that no kind of slander (although divers went about to reprove it) could fasten any fault upon him. He was of body strong, his health whole and sound, his wit very pregnant, his invincible patience able to sustain whatsoever sinister fortune and adversity could do. He was constant of judgment, a good justice, spare of diet, sparer of words, and sparest of time: in house-keeping very liberal, and sometimes more free than his living would extend unto. Briefly, of all those virtues and qualities required of St. Paul in a good bishop, in his Epistle to Timothy, I know not one in this good bishop lacking. He bare in countenance and talk always a certain severe and grave grace, which might, peradventure, be wished sometimes to have been a little more popular and vulgar-like in him: but he knew what he had to do best himself.
This, by the way, I thought to note, for that there was once an honest citizen, and to me not unknown, who, having in himself a certain conflict of conscience, came to his door for counsel: but, being abashed at his austere behaviour, durst not come in, but departed, seeking remedy of his troubled mind at other men's hands; which he afterward, by the help of Almighty God, did find and obtain. Therefore, in my judgment, such as are appointed and made governors over the flock of Christ, to teach and instruct them, ought so to frame their life, manners, countenance, and external behaviour, as neither they show themselves too familiar and light, whereby to be brought into contempt, nor, on the other side again, that they appear more lofty and rigorous, than appertaineth to the edifying of the simple flock of Christ. Nevertheless, as every man hath his peculiar gift wrought in him by nature, so this disposition of fatherly gravity in this man neither was excessive, nor did he bear that personage that was in him, without great consideration. For it seemed to him, peradventure, that this licentious and unbridled life of the common sort ought to be chastened, not only with words and discipline, but also with the grave and severe countenance of good men.
After he had thus practised himself in this popular and common kind of preaching; at length, and that not without the great profit of many, he was called to preach before the king's Majesty, and soon after made bishop of Gloucester by the king's commandment. In that office he continued two years, and behaved himself so well, that his very enemies (except it were for his good doings, and sharp correcting of sin) could find no fault with him; and, after that, he was made bishop of Worcester.
But I cannot tell what sinister and unlucky contention concerning the ordering and consecration of bishops, and of their apparel, with such other like trifles, began to disturb the good and lucky beginning of the godly bishop. For notwithstanding that godly reformation of religion then begun in the Church of England, besides other ceremonies more ambitious than profitable, or tending to edification, they used to wear such garments and apparel as the popish bishops were wont to do: first a chimere, and under that a white rochet; then, a mathematical cap with four angles, dividing the whole world into four parts. These trifles, tending more to superstition than otherwise, as he could never abide, so in no wise could he be persuaded to wear them. For this cause he made supplication to the king's Majesty, most humbly desiring his Highness, either to discharge him of the bishopric, or else to dispense with him for such ceremonial orders; whose petition the king granted immediately, writing his letter to the archbishop after this tenor.
The king's letters or grant for the dispensation of John Hooper, elected bishop of Gloucester; written to the archbishop of Canterbury and other bishops.
"Right reverend father, and right trusty and well-beloved, we greet you well.-- Whereas we, by the advice of our council, have called and chosen our right well-beloved and well worthy, Master John Hooper, professor of divinity, to be our bishop of Gloucester, as well for his great knowledge, deep judgment, and long study both in the Scriptures, and other profane learning, as also for his good discretion, ready utterance, and honest life for that kind of vocation; to the intent all our loving subjects, which are in his said charge and elsewhere, might, by his sound and true doctrine, learn the better their duty towards God, their obedience towards us, and love towards their neighbours: from consecrating of whom we understand you do stay, because he would have you omit and let pass certain rites and ceremonies offensive to his conscience, whereby ye think ye should fall in prĉmunire of laws; we have thought good, by the advice aforesaid, to dispense and discharge you of all manner of dangers, penalties, and forfeitures, you shall run and be in any manner of way, by omitting any of the same. And these our letters shall be your sufficient warrant and discharge there-for.
"Given under our signet, at our castle of Windsor, the fifth of August, the fourth year of our reign.
Besides this letter of the king, also the earl of Warwick (who was afterward duke of Northumberland) adjoined his letter to the foresaid archbishop of Canterbury, to this purpose and effect: that Master Hooper might not be burdened with the oath used then commonly in the consecration of bishops, which was against his conscience; as by the purport of the letter here is to be seen, as followeth.
"After my most hearty commendations to your Grace, these may be to desire the same, that in such reasonable things, wherein this bearer, my Lord elect of Gloucester, craveth to be borne withal at your hands, you would vouchsafe to show him your Grace's favour, the rather at this my instance; which thing partly I have taken in hand by the king's Majesty's own motion. The matter is weighed by his Highness, none other but that your Grace may facily condescend unto. The principal cause is, that you would not charge this said bearer with an oath burdenous to his conscience. And so, for lack of time, I commit your Grace to the tuition of Almighty God. From Westminster, the twenty-third of July, 1550.
"Your Grace's most assured loving friend,
Both this grant of the king, and also the earl's letters aforesaid notwithstanding, the bishops still stood earnestly in the defence of the aforesaid ceremonies; saying it was but a small matter, and that the fault was in the abuse of the things, and not in the things themselves: adding moreover, that he ought not to be so stubborn in so light a matter; and that his wilfulness therein was not to be suffered.
To be short, whilst both parties thus contended about this matter more than reason would, in the mean time occasion was given, as to the true Christians to lament, so to the adversaries to rejoice. In conclusion, this theological contention came to this end: that the bishops having the upper hand, Master Hooper was fain to agree to this condition -- that sometimes he should in his sermon show himself apparelled as the other bishops were. Wherefore, appointed to preach before the king, as a new player in a strange apparel, he cometh forth on the stage. His upper garment was a long scarlet chimere down to the foot, and under that a white linen rochet that covered all his shoulders. Upon his head he had a geometrical, that is, a four-squared cap, albeit that his head was round. What cause of shame the strangeness hereof was that day to that good preacher, every man may easily judge. But this private contumely and reproach, in respect of the public profit of the church, which be only sought, he bore and suffered patiently. And I would to God, in like manner, they, who took upon them the other part of that tragedy, had yielded their private cause, whatsoever it was, to the public concord and edifying of the church; for no man in all the city was one hair the better for that hot contention.
I will name nobody, partly for that his oppugners, being afterwards joined in the most sure bond of friendship with him, in one, and for one cause, suffered martyrdom; and partly for that I commonly use, according to my accustomed manner, to keep my pen from presumptuous judging of any person. Yet I thought to note the thing for this consideration: to admonish the reader hereby, how wholesome and necessary the cross of Christ is sometimes in the chnrch of Christ, as by the sequel hereof afterward did appear. For as, in a civil governance and commonwealth, nothing is more occasion of war than overmuch peace; so in the church and among churchmen, as nothing is more pernicious than too much quietness, so nothing more ceaseth private contentions oftentimes rising amongst them, than the public cross of persecution.
Furthermore, so I persuaded myself, the same not to be inexpedient, to have extant such examples of holy and blessed men. For, if it do not a little appertain to our public consolation and comfort, when we read in the Scriptures of the foul dissension between Paul and Barnabas, of the fall of Peter, and of David's murder and adultery; why may or should it not be as well profitable for our posterity, to hear and know the falls of these godly martyrs, whereby we may the less despair in our infirmity, considering the same or greater infirmities to reign in the holy saints of God, both prophets, apostles, and martyrs?
And thus, by the way, thou hast heard, good reader, hitherto the weakness of these good men, plainly and simply, as the truth was, declared unto thee, to the end their fall may minister occasion to us, either of eschewing the like, or else to take heart and comfort in the like fall and frailness of ours. Now again, on the other part, it remaineth to record, after the foresaid discord, the godly reconciliations of these good men in time of persecution, who afterward, being in prison for the truth's sake, reconciled themselves again with most godly agreement, as appeareth by this letter sent by Bishop Ridley to the said bishop of Gloucester. The copy whereof, as it was written with his own hand, hereafter followeth.
"My dearly beloved brother and fellow elder, whom I reverence in the Lord, pardon me, I beseech you, that hitherto, since your captivity and mine, I have not saluted you by my letters: whereas I do indeed confess, I have received from you (such was your gentleness) two letters at sundry times: but yet at such time as I could not be suffered to write to you again; or, if I might, yet was I greatly in doubt how my letters might safely come into your hands. But now, my dear brother, forasmuch as I understand by your works, which I have yet but superficially seen, that we thoroughly agree and wholly consent together in those things which are the grounds and substantial points of our religion, against the which the world so furionsly rageth in these our days, howsoever in time past, in certain by-matters and circumstances of religion, your wisdom and my simplicity (I grant) have a little jarred, each of us following the abundance of his own sense and judgment; now, I say, be you assured, that even with my whole heart, God is my witness, in the bowels of Christ I love you in the truth, and for the truth's sake which abideth in us, and, as I am persuaded, shall, by the grace of God, abide in us for evermore.
"And because the world, as I perceive, brother, ceaseth not to play his pageant, and busily conspireth against Christ our Saviour, with all possible force and power, exalting high things against the knowledge of God: let us join hands together in Christ; and, if we cannot overthrow, yet to our power, and as much as in us lieth, let us shake those high altitudes, not with carnal, but with spiritual weapons: and withal, brother, let us prepare ourselves to the day of our dissolution, by the which, after the short time of this bodily affliction, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall triumph together with him, in eternal glory.
"I pray you, brother, salute in my name your reverend fellow prisoner, and venerable father, D. C.; by whom, since the first day that I heard of his most godly and fatherly constancy, in confessing the truth of the gospel, I have conceived great consolation and joy in the Lord. For the integrity and uprightness of that man, his gravity and innocency, all England, I think, hath known long ago. Blessed be God therefore, which in such abundance of iniquity, and decay of all godliness, hath given unto us, in this reverend old age, such a witness for the truth of his gospel. Miserable and hard-hearted is he, whom the godliness and constant confession of so worthy, so grave, and innocent a man, will not move to acknowledge and confess the truth of God.
"I do not now, brother, require you to write any thing to me again; for I stand much in fear lest your letters should be intercepted before they can come to my hands. Nevertheless know you, that it shall be to me great joy to hear of your constancy and fortitude in the Lord's quarrel. And albeit I have not hitherto written unto you, yet have I twice, as I could, sent unto you my mind touching the matter which in your letters you required to know. Neither can I yet, brother, be otherwise persuaded: I see methinks so many perils, whereby I am earnestly moved to counsel you not to hasten the publishing of your works, especially under the title of your own name. For I fear greatly, lest by this occasion both your mouth should be stopped hereafter, and all things taken away from the rest of the prisoners; whereby otherwise, if it so please God, they may be able to do good to many. Farewell in the Lord, my most dear brother; and if there be any more in prison with you for Christ's sake, I beseech you, as you may, salute them in my name. To whose prayers I do most humbly and heartily commend myself and my fellow prisoners and co-captives in the Lord; and yet once again, and for ever in Christ, my most dear brother. Farewell.
Master Hooper, after all these tumults and vexations sustained about his investing and priestly vestures, at length entering into his diocese, did there employ his time which the Lord lent him under King Edward's reign, with such diligence, as may be a spectacle to all bishops who shall ever hereafter succeed him, not only in that place, but in whatsoever diocese through the whole realm of England. So careful was he in his cure, that he left neither pains untaken, nor ways unsought, how to train up the flock of Christ in the true word of salvation, continually labouring in the same. Other men commonly are wont, for lucre or promotion's sake, to aspire to bishoprics, some hunting for them, and some purchasing or buying them, as men used to purchase lordships; and when they have them are loth to leave them: and thereupon also loth to commit that thing by worldly laws, whereby to lose them.
To this sort of men Master Hooper was clean contrary, who abhorred nothing more than gain, labouring always to save and preserve the souls of his flock; who, being bishop of two dioceses, so ruled and guided either of them and both together, as though he had in charge but one family. No father in his household, no gardener in his garden, nor husbandman in his vineyard, was more or better occupied, than he in his diocese amongst his flock, going about his towns and villages in teaching and preaching to the people there.
That time that he had to spare from preaching, he bestowed either in hearing public causes, or else in private study, prayer, and visiting of schools. With his continual doctrine he adjoined due and discreet correction, not so much severe to any, as to them which for abundance of riches, and wealthy state, thought they might do what they listed. And doubtless he spared no kind of people, but was indifferent to all men, as well rich as poor, to the great shame of no small number of men now-a-days; whereof many we see so addicted to the pleasing of great and rich men, that in the mean time they have no regard to the meaner sort of poor people, whom Christ hath bought as dearly as the other.
But now, again, we will return our talk to Master Hooper, all whose life, in fine, was such, that to the church and all churchmen, it might be a light and example; to the rest a perpetual lesson and sermon. Finally, how virtuous and good a bishop he was, ye may conceive and know evidently by this; that evcn as he was hated of none but of them that were evil, so yet the worst of them all could not reprove his life in any one jot.
I have now declared his usage and behaviour abroad in the public affairs of the church: and, certainly, there appeared in him at home no less example of a worthy prelate's life. For though he bestowed and converted the most part of his care upon the public flock and congregation of Christ, for the which also he spent his blood; yet, nevertheless, there lacked no provision in him, to bring up his own children in learning and good manners; insomuch that ye could not discern whether he deserved more praise for his fatherly usage at home, or for his bishop-like doings abroad: for every where he kept one religion in one uniform doctrine and integrity. So that if you entered into the bishop's palace, you would suppose yourself to have entered into some church or temple. In every corner thereof there was some smell of virtue, good example, honest conversation, and reading of Holy Scriptures. There was not to be seen in his house any courtly rioting or idleness; no pomp at all; no dishonest word, no swearing could there be heard.
As for the revenues of both his bishoprics, although they did not greatly exceed, as the matter was handled; yet, if any thing surmounted thereof, he pursed nothing, but bestowed it in hospitality. Twice I was, as I remember, in his house in Worcester, where, in his common hall, I saw a table spread with good store of meat, and beset full of beggars and poor folk: and I asking his servants what this meant, they told me that every day their lord and master's manner was, to have customably to dinner a certain number of poor folk of the said city by course, who were served by four at a mess, with hot and wholesome meats; and, when they were served, (being before examined by him or his deputies, of the Lord's prayer, the articles of their faith, and ten commandments,) then he himself sat down to dinner, and not before. After this sort and manner Master Hooper executed the office of a most careful and vigilant pastor, by the space of two years and more, so long as the state of religion in King Edward's time did safely flourish and take place: and would God that all other bishops would use the like diligence, care, and observance, in their function!
After this, King Edward being dead, and Mary being crowned queen of England, religion being subverted and changed, this good bishop was one of the first that was sent for by a pursuivant to be at London; and that for two causes: first, to answer to Dr. Heath, then appointed bishop of that diocese, who was before, in King Edward's days, deprived thereof for papistry. Secondarily, to render account to Dr. Bonner, bishop of London, for that he, in King Edward's time, was one of his accusers, in that he showed himself not conformable to such ordinances as were prescribed to him by the king and his council, openly at Paul's Cross. And, although the said Master Hooper was not ignorant of the evils that should happen towards him, (for he was admonished by certain of his friends to get him away, and shift for himself,) yet he would not prevent them, but tarried still, saying, "Once I did flee, and take me to my feet; but now, because I am called to this place and vocation, I am thoroughly persuaded to tarry, and to live and die with my sheep."
And when at the day of his appearance, which was the first of September, he was come to London, before he could come to the aforesaid Drs. Heath and Bonner, he was intercepted, and commanded violently against his will to appear before the queen and her council, to answer to certain bonds and obligations, wherein they said he was bound unto her; and, when he came before them, Winchester, by and by, received him very opprobriously, and, railing and rating of him, accused him of religion. He, again, freely and boldly told his tale, and purged himself. But, in fine, it came to this conclusion, that by them he was commanded to ward; it being declared unto him at his departure, that the cause of his imprisonment was only for certain sums of money, for the which he was indebted to the queen, and not for religion. This, how false and untrue it was, shall hereafter in its place more plainly appear.
The next year, being 1554, the nineteenth of March, he was called again to appear before Winchester, and other the queen's commissioners; where, what for the bishop, and what for the unruly multitude, when he could not be permitted to plead his cause, he was deprived of his bishoprics: which how, and in what order it was done, here now followeth to be seen by the testimony and report of one, which, being present at the doing, committed the same to writing.
A letter or report of a certain godly man, declaring the order of Master Hooper's deprivation from his bishoprics, March the nineteenth, Anno 1554.
"Forasmuch as a rumour is spread abroad of the talk had at my Lord Chancellor's, between him with other commissioners there appointed, and Master Hooper, clean contrary to the verity and truth thereof indeed, and therefore to be judged rather to be risen of malice, for the discrediting of the truth by false suggestions and evil reports, than otherwise: I thought it my duty, being present thereat myself, in writing to set forth the whole effect of the same; partly that the verity thereof may be known to the doubtful people; and partly also to advertise them, how uncharitably Master Hooper was handled at their hands, which, with all humility, used himself towards them, desiring, that with patience he might have been permitted to speak; assuring all men, that whereas I stood in a mammering and doubt, which of these two religions to have credited, either that set forth by the king's Majesty that is dead, or else that now maintained by the queen's Majesty; their unreverent behaviour towards Master Hooper doth move me the rather to credit his doctrine, than that which they, with railing and cruel words, defended; considering that Christ was so handled before. And that this which I have written here was the effect of their talk, as I acknowledge it to be true myself--so I appeal to all the hearers' consciences, that there were present, (so they put affection away,) for the witness of the same."
Master Hooper examined before the commissioners.
The bishops of Winchester, London, Durham, Llandaff, and Chichester, sat as commissioners.-- At Master Hooper's coming in, the lord chancellor asked whether he was married.
Hooper.--"Yea, my Lord, and will not be unmarried till death unmarry me."
Durham.--"That is matter enough to deprive you."
Hooper.--"That it is not, my Lord, except ye do against the law."
The matter concerning marriage was no more talked of then for a great space; but as well the commissioners, as such as stood by, began to make such outcries, and laughed, and used such gesture, as was unseemly for the place, and for such a matter. The bishop of Chichester, Dr. Day, called Master Hooper "hypocrite," with vehement words, and scornful countenance. Bishop Tonstal called him "beast" so did Smith, one of the clerks of the council, and divers others that stood by. At length the bishop of Winchester said, that all men might live chaste that would; and brought in this text, There be, that have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven.
Master Hooper said; that text proved not that all men could live chaste, but such only to whom it was given: and read that which goeth before in the text. But there was a clamour and cry, mocking and scorning, with calling him beast, that the text could not be examined.
Then Master Hooper said, that it did appear by the old canons, that marriage was not forbidden unto priests; and named the Decrees. But the bishop of Winchester sent for another part, namely the Clementines, or the Extravagants: but Bishop Hooper said, that book was not it, which he named. Then cried out the bishop of Winchester, and said, "You shall not have any other, until ye be judged by this." And then began such a noise, tumult, and speaking together of a great many that favoured not the cause, that nothing was done or spoken orderly or charitably. Afterward Judge Morgan began to rail at Master Hooper a long time, with many opprobrious and foul words of his doing at Gloucester, in punishing of men; and said, there was never such a tyrant as he was. After that, Dr. Day, bishop of Chichester, said that the council of Ancyra, which was before the council of Nice, was against the marriage of priests.
Then cried out my Lord Chancellor, and many with him, that Master Hooper had never read the councils.
"Yea, my Lord," quoth Master Hooper, "and my Lord of Chichester (Dr. Day) knoweth that the great council of Nice, by the means of one Paphnutius, decreed that no minister should be separated from his wife." But such clamours and cries were used, that the council of Nice was not seen.
After this long brutish talk, Tonstal, bishop of Durham, asked Master Hooper, whether he believed the corporal prescnce in the sacrament. And Master Hooper said plainly, that there was none such, neither did he believe any such thing.
Then would the bishop of Durham have read out of a book, for his purpose belike (what book it was, I cannot tell); but there was such a noise and confused talk on every side, that he did not read it. Then asked Winchester of Master Hooper, what authority moved him not to believe the corporal presence? He said, the authority of God's word; and alleged this text, Whom heaven must hold until the latter day.
Then the bishop of Winchester would have made that text have served nothing for his purpose; and he said, he might be in heaven, and in the sacrament also. Master Hooper would have said more to have opened the text, but all men that stood next about the bishop, allowed so his saying with clamours and cries, that Master Hooper was not permitted to say any more against the bishop. Whereupon they bade the notaries write that he was married: and said, that he would not go from his wife, and that he believed not the corporal presence in the sacrament: wherefore he was worthy to be deprived of his bishopric.
This is the truth of the matter (as far as I can truly remember) of the confused and troublesome talk that was between them; and except it were hasty and uncharitable words, this is the whole matter of their talk at that time.
The true report of Master Hooper's entertainment in the Fleet; written with his own hand, the seventh of January, 1555.
"The first of September, 1553, I was committed unto the Fleet from Richmond, to have the liberty of the prison; and, within six days after, I paid for my liberty five pounds sterling to the warden, for fees: who, immediately upon the payment thereof, complained unto Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester; and so was I committed to close prison one quarter of a year in the tower chamber of the Fleet, and used very extremely. Then, by the means of a good gentlewoman, I had liberty to come down to dinner and supper, not suffered to speak with any of my friends; but, as soon as dinner and supper was done, to repair to my chamber again. Notwithstanding, while I came down thus to dinner and supper, the warden and his wife picked quarrels with me, and complained untruly of me to their great friend the bishop of Winchester.
"After one quarter of a year and somewhat more, Babington the warden, and his wife, fell out with me for the wicked mass: and thereupon the warden resorted to the bishop of Winchester, and obtained to put me into the wards, where I have continued a long time; having nothing appointed to me for my bed, but a little pad of straw and a rotten covering, with a tick and a few feathers therein, the chamber being vile and stinking, until by God's means good people sent me bedding to lie in. Of the one side of which prison is the sink and filth of the house, and on the other side the town ditch, so that the stench of the house hath infected me with sundry diseases.-- During which time I have been sick; and the doors, bars, hasps, and chains being all closed, and made fast upon me, I have mourned, called, and cried for help. But the warden, when he hath known me many times ready to die, and when the poor men of the wards have called to help me, hath commanded the doors to be kept fast, and charged that none of his men should come at me, saying, "Let him alone; it were a good riddance of him." And, amongst many other times, he did thus the eighteenth of October, 1553; as many can witness.
"I paid always like a baron to the said warden, as well in fees, as for my board, which was twenty shillings a week, besides my man's table, until I was wrongfully deprived of my bishopric; and, since that time, I have paid him as the best gentleman doth in his house; yet hath he used me worse, and more vilely, than the veriest slave that ever came to the hall commons.
"The said warden hath also imprisoned my man, William Downton, and stripped him out of his clothes to search for letters, and could find none, but only a little remembrance of good people's names, that gave me their alms to relieve me in prison; and to undo them also, the warden delivered the same bill unto the said Stephen Gardiner, God's enemy and mine.
"I have suffered imprisonment almost eighteen months, my goods, living, friends, and comfort taken from me; the queen owing me by just account eighty pounds or more. She hath put me in prison, and giveth nothing to find me, neither is there suffered any one to come at me whereby I might have relief. I am with a wicked man and woman, so that I see no remedy, (saving God's help,) but I shall be cast away in prison before I come to judgment. But I commit my just cause to God, whose will be done, whether it be by life or death."
Thus much wrote he himself, of this matter.
Another examination of Master Hooper.
The twenty-second of January following, 1555, Babington, the warden of the Fleet, was commanded to bring Master Hooper before the bishop of Winchester, with other bishops and commissioners, at the said Winchester's house at St. Mary Overy's, where in effect thus much was done. The bishop of Winchester, in the name of himself and the rest, moved Master Hooper earnestly to forsake the evil and corrupt doctrine (as he termed it) preached in the days of King Edward the Sixth, and to return to the unity of the catholic church, and to acknowledge the pope's Holiness to be head of the same church, according to the determination of the whole parliament; promising, that as he himself, with other his brethren, had received the pope's blessing, and the queen's mercy; even so mercy was ready to be showed to him and others, if he would arise with them, and condescend to the pope's Holiness.
Master Hooper answered, that forasmuch as the pope taught doctrine altogether contrary to the doctrine of Christ, he was not worthy to be accounted as a member of Christ's church, much less to be head thereof; wherefore he would in no wise condescend to any such usurped jurisdiction. Neither esteemed he the church, whereof they call him head, to be the catholic church of Christ: for the church only heareth the voice of her spouse Christ, and flieth the strangers. "Howbeit," saith he, "if in any point, to me unknown, I have offended the queen's Majesty, I shall most humbly submit myself to her mercy; if mercy may be had with safety of conscience, and without the displeasure of God."
Answer was made, that the queen would show no mercy to the pope's enemies. Whereupon Babington was commanded to bring him to the Fleet again: who did so, and shifted him from his former chamber into another, near unto the warden's own chamber, where he remained six days; and, in the mean time, his former chamber was searched by Dr. Martin and others, for writings and books, which Master Hooper was thought to have made, but none were found.
Another examination of Master Hooper.
The twenty-eighth of January, Winchester and other the commissioners sat in judgment at St. Mary Overy's, where Master Hooper appeared before them at afternoon again; and there, after much reasoning and disputation to and fro, he was commanded aside, till Master Rogers (which was then come) had been likewise examined. Examinations being ended, the two sheriffs of London were commanded, about four of the clock, to carry them to the Compter in Southwark, there to remain till the morrow at nine o'clock, to see whether they would relent and come home again to the catholic church. So Master Hooper went before with one of the sheriffs, and Master Rogers came after with the other, and being out of the church door, Master Hooper looked back, and stayed a little till Master Rogers drew near, unto whom he said, "Come, brother Rogers! must we two take this matter first in hand, and begin to fry these faggots?" "Yea, sir," said Master Rogers, "by God's grace." "Doubt not," said Master Hooper, "but God will give strength." So going forwards, there was such a press of people in the streets, which rejoiced at their constancy, that they had much ado to pass.
By the way the sheriff said to Master Hooper, "I wonder that ye were so hasty and quick with my Lord Chancellor, and did use no more patience." He answered, "Master Sheriff. I was nothing at all impatient, although I was earnest in my Master's cause, and it standeth me so in hand, for it goeth upon life and death; not the life and death of this world only, but also of the world to come." Then were they committed to the keeper of the Compter, and appointed to several chambers, with commandment that they should not be snffered to speak one with another, neither yet any other permitted to come at them, that night.
The third and last examination of Master Hooper.
Upon the next day following, the twenty-ninth of January, at the hour appointed, they were brought again by the sheriffs before the said bishop and commissioners, in the church, where they were the day before. And after long and earnest talk, when they perceived that Master Hooper would by no means condescend unto them, they condemned him to be degraded, and read unto him his condemnation. That done, Master Rogers was brought before them, and in like manner entreated, and so they delivered both of them to the secular power, the two sheriffs of London, who were willed to carry them to the Clink, a prison not far from the bishop of Winchester's house, and there to remain till night.
When it was dark, Master Hooper was led by one of the sheriffs, with many bills and weapons, first through the bishop of Winchester's house, and so over London bridge, through the city to Newgate. And by the way some of the serjeants were willed to go before, and put out the costermongers' candles, who used to sit with lights in the streets: either fearing, of likelihood, that the people would have made some attempt to have taken him away from them by force, if they had seen him go to that prison; or else, being burdened with an evil conscience, they thought darkness to be a most fit season for such a business.
But notwithstanding this device, the people having some foreknowledge of his coming, many of them came forth of their doors with lights, and saluted him; praising God for his constancy in the true doctrine which he had taught them, and desiring God to strengthen him in the same to the end. Master Hooper passed by, and required the people to make their earnest prayers to God for him: and so went through Cheapside to the place appointed, and was delivered as close prisoner to the keeper of Newgate, where he remained six days, nobody being permitted to come to him, or talk with him, saving his keepers, and such as should he appointed thereto.
During this time, Bonner, bishop of London, and others at his appointment, as Fecknam, Chedsey, and Harpsfield, &c., resorted divers times unto him to assay if by any mcans they could persuade him to relent, and become a member of their antichristian church. All the ways they could devise, they attempted: for, besides the disputations and allegations of testimonies of the Scriptures and of ancient writers wrested to a wrong sense, according to their accustomed manner, they used also all outward gentleness and significations of friendship, with many great proffers and promises of worldly commodities; not omitting also most grievous threatenings, if with gentleness they could not prevail: but they found him always the same man, stedfast and immovable. When they perceived that they could by no means reclaim him to their purpose with such persuasions and offers as they used for his conversion, then went they about, by false rumours and reports of recantations, (for it is well known, that they and their servants did spread it first abroad,) to bring him, and the doctrine of Christ which he professed, out of credit with the people. So the bruit being a little spread abroad, and believed of some of the weaker sort, by reason of the often resort of the bishop of London and others, it increased more, and at last came to Master Hooper's ears: wherewith he was not a little grieved, that the people should give so light credit unto false rumours, having so simple a ground; as it may appear by a letter which he wrote upon that occasion, the copy whereof followeth:--
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all them that unfeignedly look for the coming of our Saviour Christ. Amen.
"Dear brethren and sisters in the Lord, and my fellow prisoners for the cause of God's gospel, I do much rejoice and give thanks unto God for your constancy and perseverance in affliction, unto whom I wish continuance unto the end. And as I do rejoice in your faith and constancy in afflictions that be in prison; even so do I mourn and lament to hear of our dear brethren that yet have not felt such dangers for God's truth as we have and do feel, and be daily like to suffer more; yea, the very extreme and vile death of the fire: yet such is the report abroad, (as I am credibly informed,) that I, John Hooper, a condemned man for the cause of Christ, should now, after sentence of death, (being in Newgate prisoner, and looking daily for execution,) recant and abjure that which heretofore I have preached. And this talk ariseth of this, that the bishop of London and his chaplains resort unto me. Doubtless, if our brethren were as godly as I could wish them, they would think, that in case I did refuse to talk with them, they might have just occasion to say that I were unlearned, and durst not speak with learned men; or else proud, and disdained to speak with them. Therefore, to avoid just suspicion of both, I have and do daily speak with them when they come; not doubting but that they report that I am neither proud nor unlearned. And I would wish all men to do as I do in this point, for I fear not their arguments, neither is death terrible unto me; praying you to make true report of the same, as occasion shall serve; and that I am more confirmed in the truth which I have preached heretofore, by their coming.
"Therefore, ye that may send to the weak brethren, pray them that they trouble me not with such reports of recantations as they do. For I have hitherto left all things of the world, and suffered great pains and imprisonment, and, I thank God, I am as ready to suffer death, as a mortal man may be. It were better for them to pray for us, than to credit or report such rumours that be untrue. We have enemies enough of such as know not God truly; but yet the false report of weak brethren is a double cross. I wish you eternal salvation in Jesus Christ, and also require your continual prayers, that he which hath begun in us, may continue it to the end.
"I have taught the truth with my tongue and with my pen heretofore; and hereafter shortly shall confirm the same by God's grace with my blood.
"Forth of Newgate the second of February, anno 1555.
"Your brother in Christ,
Upon Monday morning the bishop of London came to Newgate, and there degraded Master Hooper.
After the sentence of degradation thus declared, now let us see the form and manncr of their degrading, which here also followeth. But first here is to be noted, that they, degrading this blessed bishop, did not proceed against him as a bishop, but as only against a priest, as they termed him; for such as he was, these Balaamites accounted for no bishop.
The form and manner used in degrading Bishop Hooper.
Illustration -- John Hooper degraded from his office
The fourth day of February, the year above mentioned, in the chapel in Newgate, the bishop of London there sitting with his notary and certain other witnesses, came Alexander Andrew, the gaoler, bringing with him Master Hooper and Master Rogers, being condemned before by the chancellor; where the said bishop of London, at the requestof the aforesaid Winchester, proceeded to the degradation of the parties above mentioned, Master Hooper and Master Rogers, after this form and manner: first, he put upon him all the vestures and ornaments belonging to a priest, with all other things to the same order appertaining, as though (being revested) they should solemnly execute their office. Thus they, being apparelled and invested, the bishop beginneth to pluck off, first the uttermost vesture; and so, by degree and order, coming down to the lowest vesture, which they had only in taking Benet and Collet; and so, being stript and deposed, he deprived them of all order, benefit, and privilege belonging to the clergy; and consequently, that being done, pronounced, decreed, and declared the said parties so degraded, to be given personally to the secular power, as the sheriffs being for that year, Master Davy Woodroofe, and Master William Chester; who, receiving first the said Master Rogers at the hands of the bishop, had him away with them, bringing him to the place of execution where he suffered. The witnesses there present were Master Harpsfield, archdeacon of London; Robert Cosin, and Robert Willerton, canons of Paul's; Thomas Mountague, and George How, clerks; Tristram Swadock, and Richard Cloney, the sumner, &c.
The same Monday at night, being the fourth of February, his keeper gave him an inkling that he should be sent to Gloucester to suffer death, whereat he rejoiced very much, lifting up his eyes and hands unto heaven, and praising God that he saw it good to send him amongst the people over whom he was pastor, there to confirm with his death the truth which he had before taught them; not doubting but the Lord would give him strength to perform the same to his glory. And immediately he sent to his servant's house for his boots, spurs, and cloak, that he might be in a readiness to ride when he should be called.
The next day following, about four o'clock in the morning before day, the keeper with others came to him and searched him, and the bed wherein he lay, to see if he had written any thing; and then he was led by the sheriffs of London, and other their officers, forth of Newgate to a place appointed, not far from St. Dunstan's church in Fleet Street, where six of the queen's guards were appointed to receive him, and to carry him to Gloucester, there to be delivered unto the sheriff, who, with the Lord Chandos, Master Wicks, and other commissioners, were appointed to see execution done. The which guard brought him to the Angel, where he brake his fast with them, eating his meat at that time more liberally than he had used to do a good while before. About the break of the day he went to horse, and leaped cheerfully on horseback without help, having a hood upon his head under his hat, that he should not be known. And so he took his journey joyfully towards Gloucester, and always by the way the guard learned of him, where he was accustomed to bait or lodge; and ever carried him to another inn.
On the Thursday following, he came to a town in his diocese called Cirencester, fifteen miles from Gloucester, about eleven o'clock, and there dined at a woman's house who had always hated the truth, and spoken all evil she could of Master Hooper. This woman, perceiving the cause of his coming, showed him all the friendship she could, and lamented his case with tears; confessing that she before had often reported, that if he were put to the trial, he would not stand to his doctrine.
After dinner he rode forwards, and came to Gloucester about five o'clock; and a mile without the town was much people assembled, which cried and lamented his estate, insomuch that one of the guard rode post into the town, to require aid of the mayor and sheriffs, fearing lest he should have been taken from them. The officers and their retinue repaired to the gate with weapons, and commanded the people to keep their houses, &c.; but there was no man that once gave any signification of any such rescue or violence. So was he lodged at one Ingram's house in Gloucester; and that night (as he had done all the way) he did eat his meat quietly, and slept his first sleep soundly, as it was reported by them of the guard, and others. After his first sleep he continued all that night in prayer until the morning; and then he desired that he might go into the next chamber, (for the guard were also in the chamber where he lay,) that there, being solitary, he might pray and talk with God: so that all the day, saving a little at meat, and when he talked at any time with such as the guard licensed to speak with him, he bestowed in prayer.
Amongst others that spake with him, Sir Anthony Kingston, knight, was one; who, seeming in time past his very friend, was then appointed by the queen's letters to be one of the commissioners, to see execution done upon him. Master Kingston, being brought into the chamber, found him at his prayer: and as soon as he saw Master Hooper, he burst forth in tears. Master Hooper at the first blush knew him not. Then said Master Kingston, "Why, my Lord, do you not know me, an old friend of yours, Anthony Kingston?"
Hooper.--"Yes, Master Kingston, I do now know you well, and am glad to see you in health, and do praise God for the same."
Kingston.--"But I am sorry to see you in this case; for as I understand you be come hither to die. But, alas, consider that life is sweet, and death is bitter. Therefore, seeing life may be had, desire to live; for life hereafter may do good."
Hooper.--"Indeed it is true, Master Kingston, I am come hither to end this life, and to suffer death here, because I will not gainsay the former truth that I have heretofore taught amongst you in this diocese, and elsewhere; and I thank you for your friendly counsel, although it be not so friendly as I could have wished it. True it is, Master Kingston, that death is bitter, and life is sweet: but, alas, consider that the death to come is more bitter, and the life to come is more sweet. Therefore, for the desire and love I have to the one, and the terror and fear of the other, I do not so much regard this death, nor esteem this life, but have settled myself, through the strength of God's holy Spirit, patiently to pass throngh the torments and extremities of the fire now prepared for me, rather than to deny the truth of his word; desiring you, and others, in the mean time, to commend me to God's mercy in your prayers."
Kingston.--"Well, my Lord, then I perceive there is no remedy, and therefore I will take my leave of you: and I thank God that ever I knew you; for God did appoint you to call me, being a lost child: and by your good instructions, whereas before I was both an adulterer and a fornicator, God hath brought me to the forsaking and detesting of the same."
Hooper.--"If you have had the grace so to do, I do highly praise God for it: and if you have not, I pray God ye may have; and that you may continually live in his fear."
After these, and many other words, the one took leave of the other; Master Kingston with bitter tears, Master Hooper with tears also trickling down his cheeks. At which departure Master Hooper told him that all the troubles he had sustained in prison, had not caused him to utter so much sorrow.
The same day in the afternoon, a blind boy, after long intercession made to the guard, obtained licence to be brought unto Master Hooper's speech. The same boy not long afore had suffered imprisonment at Gloucester for confessing of the truth. Master Hooper, after he had examined him of his faith, and the cause of his imprisonment, beheld him stedfastly, and (the water appearing in his eyes) said unto him, "Ah, poor boy! God hath taken from thee thy outward sight, for what reason he best knoweth: but he hath given thee another sight much more precious, for he hath endned thy soul with the eye of knowledge and faith. God give thee grace continually to pray unto him, that thou lose not that sight; for then shouldest thou be blind both in body and soul!"
After that another came to him, whom he knew to be a very papist and a wicked man, which appeared to be sorry for Master Hooper's trouble, saying, "Sir, I am sorry to see you thus." "To see me? Why," said he, "art thou sorry?" "To see you," saith the other, "in this case. For I hear say, you are come hither to die, for the which I am sorry." "Be sorry for thyself, man," said Master Hooper, "and lament thine own wickedness; for I am well, I thank God, and death to me for Christ's sake is welcome."
The same night he was committed by the guard, their commission being then expired, unto the custody of the sheriffs of Gloucester. The name of the one was Jenkins, the other Bond, who, with the mayor and aldermen, repaired to Master Hooper's lodging, and at the first meeting saluted him, and took him by the hand. Unto whom Hooper spake on this manner "Master Mayor, I give most hearty thanks to you, and to the rest of your brethren, that you have vouchsafed to take me, a prisoner and a condemned man, by the hand; whereby to my rejoicing it is some deal apparent that your old love and friendship towards me is not altogether extinguished; and I trust also that all the things I have taught you in times past are not utterly forgotten, when I was here, by the godly king that dead is, appointed to be your bishop and pastor. For the which most true and sincere doctrine, because I will not now account it falsehood and heresy, as many other men do, I am sent hither (as I am sure you know) by the queen's commandment to die; and am come where I taught it, to confirm it with my blood. And now, Master Sheriffs, I understand by these good men, and my very friends," (meaning the guard,)" at whose hands I have found so much favour and gentleness, by the way hitherward, as a prisoner could reasonably require, (for the which also I most heartily thank them,) that I am committed to your custody, as unto them that must see me brought to-morrow to the place of execution. My request therefore to you shall be only, that there may be a quick fire, shortly to make an end; and in the mean time I will be as obedient unto you, as yourselves would wish. If you think I do amiss in any thing, hold up your finger, and I have done: for I am not come hither as one enforced or compelled to die (for it is well known, I might have had my life with worldly gain); but as one willing to offer and give my life for the truth, rather than consent to the wicked papistical religion of the bishop of Rome, received and set forth by the magistrates in England, to God's high displeasure and dishonour; and I trust, by God's grace, to-morrow to die a faithful servant of God, and a true obedient subject to the queen."
These and such-like words in effect used Master Hooper to the mayor, sheriffs, and aldermen, whereat many of them mourned and lamented. Notwithstanding the two sheriffs went aside to consult, and were determined to have lodged him in the common gaol of the town, called North gate, if the guard had not made earnest intercession for him; who declared at large, how quietly, mildly, and patiently he had behaved himself in the way; adding thereto, that any child might keep him well enough, and that they themselves would rather take pains to watch with him, than that he should be sent to the common prison.
So it was determined, at length, he should still remain in Robert Ingram's house; and the sheriffs, and the sergeants, and other officers did appoint to watch with him that night themselves. His desire was, that he might go to bed that night betimes, saying, that he had many things to remember: and so he did at five of the clock, and slept one sleep soundly, and bestowed the rest of the night in prayer. After he got up in the morning, he desired that no man should be suffered to come into the chamber, that he might he solitary till the hour of execution.
About eight o'clock came Sir John Bridges, Lord Chandos, with a great band of men, Sir Anthony Kingston, Sir Edmund Bridges, and other commissioners appointed to see execution done. At nine o'clock Master Hooper was willed to prepare himself to be in a readiness, for the time was at hand. Immediately he was brought down from his chamber by the sheriffs, who were accompanied with bills, glaves, and weapons. When he saw the multitude of weapons, he spake to the sheriffs on this wise "Master Sheriffs," said he, "I am no traitor, neither needed you to have made such a business to bring me to the place where I must suffer; for if ye had willed me, I would have gone alone to the stake, and have troubled none of you all. Afterward, looking upon the multitude of people that were assembled, being by estimation to the number of seven thousand, (for it was market day, and many also came to see his behaviour towards death,) he spake unto those that were about him, saying, "Alas, why be these people assembled and come together? Peradventure they think to hear something of me now, as they have in times past; but, alas! speech is prohibited me. Notwithstanding, the cause of my death is well known unto them. When I was appointed here to be their pastor, I preached unto them true and sincere doctrine; and that, out of the word of God: because I will not now account the same to be heresy and untruth, this kind of death is prepared for me."
So he went forward, led between the two sheriffs (as it were a lamb to the place of slaughter) in a gown of his host's, his hat upon his head, and a staff in his hand to stay himself withal: for the pain of the sciatica, which he had taken in prison, caused him somewhat to halt. All the way being straitly charged not to speak, he could not be perceived once to open his mouth, but beholding the people all the way, which mourned bitterly for him, he would sometimes lift up his eyes towards heaven, and look very cheerfully upon such as he knew: and he was never known, during the time of his being amongst them, to look with so cheerful and rnddy a countenance as he did at that present. When he came to the place appointed where he should die, smilingly he beheld the stake and preparation made for him, which was near unto the great elm tree, over against the college of priests, where he was wont to preach. The place round about the houses and the boughs of the tree were replenished with people; and in the chamber over the college-gate stood the priests of the college.
Then kneeled he down (forasmuch as he could not be suffered to speak unto the people) to prayer, and beckoned six or seven times unto one whom he knew well, to hear the said prayer, to make report thereof in time to come, (pouring tears upon his shoulders and in his bosom,) who gave attentive ears unto the same; the which prayer he made upon the whole creed, wherein he continued the space of half an hour. Now, after he was somewhat entered into his prayer, a box was brought and laid before him upon a stool, with his pardon (or at least-wise it was feigned to be his pardon) from the queen, if he would turn. At the sight whereof he cried, "If you love my soul, away with it! if you love my soul, away with it!" The box being taken away, the Lord Chandos said, "Seeing there is no remedy, despatch him quickly." Master Hooper said, "Good my Lord, I trust your Lordship will give me leave to make an end of my prayers."
Then said the Lord Chandos to Sir Edmund Bridges's son, which gave ear before to Master Hooper's prayer at his request, "Edmund, take heed that he do nothing else but pray: if he do, tell me, and I shall quickly despatch him." Whiles this talk was, there stepped one or two uncalled, who heard him speak these words following:
"Lord, (said he,) I am hell, but thou art heaven; I am swill and a sink of sin, but thou art a gracious God and a merciful Redeemer. Have mercy therefore upon me, most miserable and wretched offender, after thy great mercy, and according to thine inestimable goodness. Thou that art ascended into heaven, receive me, hell, to be partaker of thy joys, where thou sittest in equal glory with thy Father. For well knowest thou, Lord, wherefore I am come hither to suffer, and why the wicked do persecute this thy poor servant; not for my sins and transgressions committed against thee, but because I will not allow their wicked doings, to the contaminating of thy blood, and to the denial of the knowledge of thy truth, wherewith it did please thee, by thy Holy Spirit, to instruct me: the which, with as much diligence as a poor wretch might, (being thereto called,) I have set forth to thy glory. And well seest thou, my Lord and God, what terrible pains and cruel torments be prepared for thy creature; such, Lord, as without thy strength none is able to bear, or patiently to pass. But all things that are impossible with man, are possible with thee: therefore strengthen me of thy goodness, that in the fire I break not the rules of patience; or else assuage the terror of the pains, as shall seem most to thy glory."
As soon as the mayor had espied these men who made report of the former words, they were commanded away, and could not be suffered to hear any more. Prayer being done, he prepared himself to the stake, and put off his host's gown, and delivered it to the sheriffs, requiring them to see it restored unto the owner, and put off the rest of his gear, unto his doublet and hose, wherein he would have burned. But the sheriffs would not permit that, such was their greediness; unto whose pleasures, good man, he very obediently submitted himself; and his doublet, hose, and waistcoat were taken off. Then, being in his shirt, he took a point from his hose himself, and trussed his shirt between his legs, where he had a pound of gunpowder in a bladder, and under each arm the like quantity, delivered him by the guard. So, desiring the people to say the Lord's prayer with him, and to pray for him, (who performed it with tears, during the time of his pains,) he went up to the stake. Now when he was at the stake, three irons, made to bind him to the stake, were brought; one for his neck, another for his middle, and the third for his legs. But he refusing them said, "Ye have no need thus to trouble yourselves; for I doubt not but God will give strength sufficient to abide the extremity of the fire, without bands: notwithstanding, suspecting the frailty and weakness of the flesh, but having assured confidence in God's strength, I am content ye do as ye shall think good."
So the hoop of iron prepared for his middle was brought, which being made somewhat too short, (for his belly was swollen by imprisonment,) he shrank, and put in his belly with his hand, until it was fastened: and when they offered to have bound his neck and legs with the other two hoops of iron, be utterly refused them, and would have none, saying, "I am well assured I shall not trouble you."
Thus being ready, he looked upon all the people, of whom he might be well seen, (for he was both tall and stood also on a high stool,) and beheld round about him; and in every corner there was nothing to be seen but weeping and sorrowful people. Then, lifting up his eyes and bands unto heaven, he prayed to himself. By and by, he that was appointed to make the fire, came to him, and did ask him forgiveness. Of whom he asked why he should forgive him, saying, that he knew never any offence he had committed against him. "O sir!" said the man, "I am appointed to make the fire." "Therein," said Master Hooper, "thou dost nothing offend me; God forgive thee thy sins, and do thine office, I pray thee." Then the reeds were cast up, and he received two bundles of them in his own hands, embraced them, kissed them, and put under either arm one of them, and showed with his hand how the rest should be bestowed, and pointed to the place where any did lack.
Anon commandment was given that the fire should be set to, and so it was. But because there were put to no fewer green faggots than two horses could carry upon their backs, it kindled not by and by, and was a pretty while also before it took the reeds upon the faggots. At length it burned about him, but the wind having full strength in that place, (it was a lowering and cold morning,) it blew the flame from him, so that he was in a manner no more but touched by the fire.
Within a space after, a few dry faggots were brought, and a new fire kindled with faggots, (for there were no more reeds,) and that burned at the nether parts, but had small power above, because of the wind, saving that it did burn his hair, and scorch his skin a little. In the time of which fire, even as at the first flame, he prayed, saying mildly and not very loud, (but as one without pains,) "O Jesus, the Son of David, have mercy upon me, and receive my soul!" After the second was spent. he did wipe both his eyes with his hands, and beholding the people, he said with an indifferent loud voice, "For God's love, good people, let me have more fire!"
And all this while his nether parts did burn; for the faggots were so few, that the flame did not burn strongly at his upper parts.
The third fire was kindled within a while after, which was more extreme than the other two: and then the bladders of gunpowder brake, which did him small good, they were so placed, and the wind had such power. In the which fire he prayed with somewhat a loud voice. "Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me; Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" And these were the last words he was heard to utter. But when he was black in the mouth, and his tongue swollen, that he could not speak, yet his lips went till they were shrunk to the gums: and he knocked his breasts with his hands, until one of his arms fell off, and then knocked still with the other, what time the fat, water, and blood, dropped out at his fingers' ends, until by renewing of the fire his strength was gone, and his hand did cleave fast, in knocking, to the iron upon his breast. So immediately, bowing forwards, he yielded up his spirit.
Thus was he three quarters of an hour or more in the fire. Even as a lamb, patiently he abode the extremity thereof, neither moving forwards, backwards, nor to any side: but, having his nether parts burned, and his bowels fallen out, he died as quietly as a child in his bed. And he now reigneth as a blessed martyr, in the joys of heaven prepared for the faithful in Christ, before the foundations of the world: for whose constancy all Christians are bound to praise God.
A letter which Master Hooper did write out of prison, to certain of his friends.
"The grace of God be with you. Amen. I did write unto you of late, and told you of what extremity the parliament had concluded upon concerning religion, suppressing the truth, and setting forth the untruth; intending to cause all men by extremity to forswear themselves, and to take again, for the head of the church, him that is neither head nor member of it, but a very enemy, as the word of God and all ancient writers do record: and for lack of law and authority, they will use force and extremity, which have been the arguments to defend the pope and popery, since their authority first began in the world. But now is the time of trial, to see whether we fear more God or man. It was an easy thing to hold with Christ whilst the prince and world held with him: but now the world hateth him, it is the true trial, who be his.
"Wherefore in the name, and in the virtue, strength, and power, of his Holy Spirit, prepare yourselves in any case to adversity and constancy. Let us not run away when it is most time to fight. Remember none shall be crowned, but such as fight manfully; and he that endureth to the end shall be saved. Ye must now turn all your cogitations from the peril you see, and mark the felicity that followeth the peril; either victory in this world of your enemies, or else a surrender of this life to inherit the everlasting kingdom. Beware of beholding too much the felicity or misery of this world, for the consideration and too earnest love or fear of either of them, draweth from God.
"Wherefore think with yourselves as touching the felicity of the world, it is good; but yet none otherwise than it standeth with the favour of God.
It is to be kept; but yet so far forth as by keeping of it we lose not God. It is good abiding and tarrying still among our friends here; but yet so, that we tarry not therewithal in God's displeasure, and hereafter dwell with the devils in fire everlasting. There is nothing under God but may be kept; so that God, being above all things we have, be not lost.
"Of adversity judge the same. Imprisonment is painful; but yet liberty upon evil conditions is more painful. The prisons stink; but yet not so much as sweet houses, where the fear and true honour of God lack. I must be alone and solitary: it is better so to be and have God with me, than to be in company with the wicked. Loss of goods is great; but loss of God's grace and favour is greater. I am a poor simple creature, and cannot tell how to answer before such a great sort of noble, learned, and wise men: it is better to make answer before the pomp and pride of wicked men, than to stand naked in the sight of all heaven and earth before the just God at the latter day. I shall die then by the hands of the cruel man: he is blessed that loseth this life full of miseries, and findeth the life of eternal joys. It is pain and grief to depart from goods and friends; but yet not so much, as to depart from grace and heaven itself. Wherefore there is neither felicity nor adversity of this world, that can appear to be great, if it be weighed with the joys or pains in the world to come.
"I can do no more, but pray for you: do the same for me, for God's sake. For my part, I thank the heavenly Father, I have made mine accounts, and appointed myself unto the will of the heavenly Father: as he will, so I will, by his grace. For God's sake, as soon as ye can, send my poor wife and children some letter from you, and my letter also which I sent of late to D***. As it was told me she never had letter from me since the coming of M*** S*** unto her; the more blame to the messengers, for I have written divers times. The Lord comfort them, and provide for them; for I am able to do nothing in worldly things. She is a godly and wise woman. If my meaning had been accomplished, she should have had necessary things but what I meant, God can perform, to whom I commend both her, and you all. I am a precious jewel now, and daintily kept; never so daintily: for neither mine own man, nor any of the servants of the house, may come to me, but my keeper alone, a simple rude man, God knoweth; but I am nothing careful thereof. Fare you well.
"The twenty-first of January, 1555.
Amongst many other memorable acts and notes worthy to be remembered in the history of Master Hooper, this also is not to be forgotten which happened between him and a bragging friar, a little after the beginning of his imprisonment: the story whereof here followeth.
"A friar came from France to England with great vaunt, asking who was the greatest heretic in England: thinking belike to do some great act upon him. To whom answer was made that Master Hooper had then the greatest name to be the chiefest ringleader, who was then in the Fleet. The friar coming to him, asked why he was committed to prison. He said, for debt. Nay, said he, it was for heresy: which, when the other had denied, 'What sayest thou,' quoth he, 'to Hoc est corpus meum?' Master Hooper, being partly moved at the sudden question, desired that he might ask of him another question, which was this: What remained after the consecration in the sacrament -- any bread, or no? 'No bread at all,' saith he. 'And when ye break it, what do you break; whether bread or the body?' said Master Hooper. 'No bread,' said the friar, 'but the body only.' 'If ye do so,' said Master Hooper, ye do great injury, not only to the body of Christ, but also ye break the Scriptures, which say, 'Ye shall not break of him one bone,' &c. With that the friar, having nothing belike to answer, suddenly recoiled back, and with his circles and his crosses began to use exorcism against Master Hooper, as though," &c.
This and more wrote Master Hooper to Mistress Wilkinson, in a letter, which letter was read unto her by John Kelke.
Comparison between Hooper and Polycarp.HEN I see and behold the great patience of these blessed martyrs in our days in their sufferings, so quietly and constantly abiding the torments that are ministered unto them of princes for God's cause; methinks I may well and worthily compare them unto the old martyrs of the primitive church: in the number of whom, if comparison be to be made between saint and saint, martyr and martyr, with whom might I better match this blessed martyr John Hooper, through the whole catalogue of the old martyrs, than with Polycarp, the ancient bishop of Smyrna, of whom Eusebius maketh mention in the ecclesiastical story? For as both agreed together in one kind of punishment, being both put to the fire, so which of them showed more patience and constancy in the time of their suffering, it is hard to be said. And though Polycarp, being set in the flame, (as the story saith,) was kept by miracle from the torment of the fire, till he was stricken down with weapon, and so despatched: yet Hooper, by no less miracle, armed with patience and fervent spirit of God's comfort, so quietly despised the violence thereof, as though he had felt little more than did Polycarp, in the fire flaming round about him.
Moreover, as it is written of Polycarp, when he should have been tied to the stake, he required to stand untied, saying these words "Let me alone I pray you; for he that gave me strength to come to this fire, will also give me patience to abide in the same without your tying." So likewise Hooper, with the like spirit, when he should have been tied with three chains to the stake. requiring them to have no such mistrust of him, was tied but with one; who, if he had not been tied at all, yet no doubt, would have no less answered to that great patience of Polycarp.
And as the end of them was both much agreeing, so the life of them both was such, as might seem not far discrepant. In teaching, alike diligent both; in zeal fervent, in life unspotted, in manners and conversation inculpable: bishops and also martyrs both. Briefly, in teaching so pithy and fruitful, that as they both were joined together in one spirit, so might they be joined in one name together -- Πολυκαρπος [Greek; Polykarpos}; to wit, much fruitful; to which name also οπωρος [Greek: oporos] is not much unlike. In this the martyrdom of Master Hooper may seem in suffering to go before, though in time it followed the martyrdom of Polycarp, for that he was both longer in prison, and there also so cruelly handled by the malice of his keepers, as I think none of the old martyrs ever suffered the like. To this also add, how he was degraded by Bonner with such contumelies and reproaches, as I think, in Polycarp's time, was not used to any.
And as we have hitherto compared these two good martyrs together, so now if we should compare the enemies and authors of their death one with the other, we should find no inequality betwixt them both, but that the adversaries of Master Hooper seemed to be more cruel and unmerciful. For they that put Polycarp to death, yet ministered to him a quick despatch, moved belike by some compassion not to have him stand in the torment; whereas the tormentors of Master Hooper suffered him, without all compassion, to stand three quarters of an hour in the fire. And as touching the chief doers and authors of his martyrdom, what consul or proconsul was there to be conferred with the chancellor here, which brought this martyr to his burning? Let this suffice.
This good bishop and servant of God, being in prison, wrote divers books and treatises, to the number of twenty-four, whereof some he wrote to the parliament in Latin, and one to the bishop of Chichester, Dr. Day: besides he wrote of the sacraments, of the Lord's prayer, and of the ten commandments, with divers others.
Here follow certain of Master Hooper's letters.
As you have heard the whole story of the life and martyrdom of this good man declared; so now let us consequently adjoin some part of his letters, written in the time of his imprisonment, most fruitful and worthy to be read, especially in these dangerous days, of all true Christians, which, by true mortification, seek to serve and follow the Lord through all tempests and storms of this malignant world, as by the reading and perusing of the said letters you shall better feel and understand.
A letter of Master Hooper to certain godly professors and lovers of the truth, instructing them how to behave themselves in that woeful alteration and change of religion.
"The grace, mercy, and peace of God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, be with you, my dear brethren, and with all those that unfeignedly Love and embrace his holy gospel. Amen.
"It is told me, that the wicked idol, the mass, is established again by law, and passed in the parliament-house. Learn the truth of it, I pray you, and what penalty is appointed in the act to such as speak against it; also whether there be any compulsion to constrain men to be at it. The statute thoroughly known, such as be abroad and at liberty may provide for themselves, and avoid the danger the better. Doubtless there hath not been seen, before our time, such a parliament as this is, that as many as were suspected to be favourers of God's word should be banished out of both houses. But we must give God thanks for that truth he hath opened in the time of his blessed servant King Edward the Sixth, and pray unto him that we deny it not, nor dishonour it with idolatry; but that we may have strength and patience rather to die ten times than to deny him once. Blessed shall we be, if ever God make us worthy of that honour to shed our blood for his name's sake; and blessed then shall we think the parents which brought us into the world, that we should, from this mortality, be carried into immortality. If we follow the commandment of St. Paul, that saith, If ye then be risen again with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God; we shall neither depart from the vain transitory goods of this world, nor from this wretched and mortal life, with so great pains as others do.
"Let us pray to our heavenly Father, that we may know and love his blessed will, and the glorious joy prepared for us in time to come; and that we may know and hate all things contrary to his blessed will, and also the pain prepared for the wicked in the world to come. There is no better way to be used in this troublesome time for your consolation, than many times to have assemblies together of such men and women as be of your religion in Christ; and there to talk and renew amongst yourselves the truth of your religion, to see what ye be by the word of God, and to remember what ye were before ye came to the knowledge thereof; to weigh and confer the dreams and false lies of the preachers that now preach, with the word of God that retaineth all truth: and by such talk and familiar resorting together, ye shall the better find ont all their lies that now go about to deceive you, and also both know and love the truth that God hath opened to us. It is much requisite, that the members of Christ comfort one another, make prayers together, confer one with another: so shall ye be the stronger, and God's Spirit shall not be absent from you, but in the midst of you, to teach you, to comfort you, to make you wise in all godly things, patient in adversity, and strong in persecution.
"Ye see how the congregation of the wicked, by helping one another, make their wicked religion and themselves strong against God's truth and his people. If ye may, have some learned man, that can, out of the Scriptures, speak unto you of faith, and true honouring of God; also that can show you the descent of Christ's church from the beginning of it until this day, that ye may perceive, by the life of our forefathers, these two things; the one, that Christ's words, which said that all must suffer persecution and trouble in the world, be true; the other, that none of all his, before our time, escaped trouble -- then shall ye perceive, that it is but a folly for one that professeth Christ truly, to look for the love of the world.
"Thus shall ye learn to bear trouble, and to exercise your religion, and feel indeed that Christ's words be true, In the world ye shall suffer persecution. And when ye shall feel your religion indeed, say, Ye be no better than your forefathers; but be glad, that ye may be counted worthy soldiers for this war. And pray God when ye come together, that he will use and order you and your doings to these three ends, which ye must take heed to: the first, that ye glorify God; the next, that ye edify the church and congregation; the third, that ye profit your own souls.
"In all your doings beware ye be not deceived. For although this time he not yet so bloody and tyrannous as the time of our forefathers, that could not bear the name of Christ without danger of life and goods; yet is our time more perilous both for body and soul. Therefore of us Christ said, Think ye, when the Son of man cometh, he shall find faith upon the earth? He said not, Think ye, he shall find any man or woman christened, and in name a Christian? But he spake of the faith that saveth the Christian man in Christ. And doubtless the scarcity of faith is now more (and will, I fear, increase) than it was in the time of the greatest tyrants that ever were; and no marvel why. Read the sixth chapter of St. John's Revelation, and ye shall perceive, amongst other things, that at the opening of the fourth seal came out a pale horse, and he that sat upon him was called Death, and hell followed him. This horse, is the time wherein hypocrites and dissemblers entered into the church under the pretence of true religion, as monks, friars, nuns, massing-priests, with such others, that hath killed more souls with heresy and superstition, than all the tyrants that ever were, who killed bodies by fire, sword, or banishment, as it appeareth by his name that sitteth upon the horse, who is called Death: for all souls that leave Christ, and trust to these hypocrites, live to the devil in everlasting pain, as is declared by him that followeth the pale horse, which is hell.
"These pretended and pale hypocrites have stirred the earthquakes, that is to wit, the princes of the world, against Christ's church; and have also darkened the sun, and made the moon bloody, and have caused the stars to fall from heaven: that is to say, have darkened with mists, and daily do darken, (as ye hear by their sermons,) the clear sun of God's most pure word. The moon, which be God's true preachers, which fetch only light at the sun of God's word, are turned into blood, prisons, and chains, that their light cannot shine unto the world as they would: whereupon it cometh to pass, that the stars, that is to say, Christian people, fall from heaven, that is to wit, from God's most true word to hypocrisy, most devilish superstition, and idolatry. Let some learned man show you all the articles of your belief and monument of Christian faith, from the time of Christ hitherto, and ye shall perceive that there was never mention of such articles as these hypocrites teach. God bless you, and pray for me as I do for you.
"Out of the Fleet, by your brother in Christ,
To Master Ferrar, bishop of St. David's, Dr. Taylor, Master Bradford, and Master Philpot, prisoners in the King's Bench in Southwark.
"The grace of God be with you, Amen. I am advertised by divers, as well such as love the truth,as also by such as yet be not come unto it, that ye and I shall be carried shortly to Cambridge, there to dispute for the faith, and for the religion of Christ (which is most true) that we have and do profess. I am (as I doubt not ye be) in Christ ready, not only to go to Cambridge, but also to suffer, by God's help, death itself in the maintenance thereof. Weston and his complices have obtained forth the commission already; and speedily, most like, he will put it in execution. Wherefore, dear brethren, I do advertise you of the thing before, for divers causes. The one to comfort you in the Lord, that the time draweth near and is at hand, that we shall testify before God's enemies God's truth: the next, that ye should prepare yourselves the better for it: the third, to show you what ways I think ourselves were best to use in this matter, and also to hear of you your better advice, if mine be not good. Ye know such as shall be censors and judges over us breathe and thirst for our blood; and whether we, by God's help overcome after the word of God, or by force and subtlety of our adversaries be overcome, this will be the conclusion: our adversaries will say, they overcome; and ye perceive how they report of those great learned men and godly personages at Oxford.
"Wherefore I mind never to answer them, except I have books present, because they use not only false allegation of the doctors, but also a piece of the doctors against the whole course of the doctors' mind. The next, that we may have sworn notaries, to take things spoken indifferently: which will be very hard to have, for the adversaries will have the oversight of all things, and then make theirs better than it was, and ours worse than it was. Then, if we see that two or three, or more, will speak together, or with scoffs and taunts illude and mock us; I suppose it were best to appeal, to be heard before the queen and the whole council, and that would much set forth the glory of God. For many of them know already the truth, many of them err rather of zeal than malice, and the others that be indurate should be answered fully to their shame, I doubt not; although to our smart and blood-shedding. For of this I am assured, that the commissioners appointed fo hear us and judge us, mean nothing less than to hear the cause indifferently; for they be enemies unto us and our cause, and be at a point already to give sentence against us: so that if it were possible, with St. Stephen, to speak so that they could not resist us, or to use such silence and patience as Christ did, they will proceed to revenging.
"Wherefore, my dear brethren in the mercy of Jesus Christ, I would be glad to know your advice this day or to-morrow; for shortly we shall begone, and I verily suppose that we shall not company together, but be kept one abroad from another. They will deny our appeal, yet let us challenge the appeal, and take witness thereof, of such as be present, and require for indifferency of hearing and judgment, to be heard either before the queen and the council, or else before all the parliament, as they were used in King Edward's days. Further, for my part I will require both books and time to answer. We have been prisoners now three quarters of a year, and have lacked our books; and our memories, by close keeping and ingratitude of their parts, be not so present and quick as theirs be. I trust God will be with us, yea, I doubt not but he will, and teach us to do all things in his cause godly and constantly. If our adversaries, that shall be our judges, may have their purpose, we shall dispute one day, be condemned the next day, and suffer the third day. And yet is there no law to condemn us, (as far as I know,) and so one of the Convocation-house said this week to Dr. Weston. To whom Weston made this answer, 'It forceth not,' quoth he, 'for a law: we have commission to proceed with them. When they be despatched, let their friends sue the law.'
"Now how soon a man may have such a commission at my Lord Chancellor's hand, you know. It is as hard to be obtained as an indictment for Christ at Caiaphas's hand. Besides that the bishops, having the queen so upon their sides, may do all things both without the advice, and also the knowledge of the rest of the lords of the temporalty; who, at this present, have found out the mark that the bishop shot at, and doubtless be not pleased with their doings. I pray you, help, that our brother Saunders, and the rest in the Marshalsea, may understand these things, and send me your answer betime. 'Judas sleepeth not; neither know we the day nor the hour.' The Lord Jesus Christ, with his Holy Spirit, comfort and strengthen us all. Amen.
"May the sixth, anno 1554.
"Yours, and with you unto death, in Christ,
An exhortation to patience, sent to his godly wife, Ann Hooper; whereby all the true members of Christ may take comfort and courage to suffer trouble and affliction for the profession of his holy gospel.
"Our Saviour Jesus Christ -- dearly beloved, and my godly wife -- in St. Matthew's Gospel said to his disciples, That it was necessary scandals should come: and that they could not be avoided, he perceived as well by the condition of those that should perish and be lost for ever in the world to come, as also by their affliction that should be saved. For he saw the greatest part of the people should contemn and neglect whatsoever true doctrine or godly ways should be showed unto them, or else receive and use it as they thought good to serve their pleasures, without any profit to their souls at all, not caring whether they lived as they were commanded by God's word or not; but would think it sufficient to be counted to have the name of a Christian man, with such works and fruits of his profession and Christianity, as his fathers and elders, after their custom and manner, esteem and take to be good fruits and faithful works; and will not try them by the word of God at all. These men, by the just judgment of God, be delivered unto the craft and subtilty of the devil, that they may be kept by one scandalons stumbling-block or other, that they never come unto Christ, who came to save those that were lost: as ye may see how God delivereth wicked men up unto their own lusts, to do one mischief after another; careless, until they come into a reprobate mind, that forgetteth itself, and cannot know what is expedient to be done, or to be left undone; because they close their eyes, and will not see the light of God's word offered unto them: and being thus blinded, they prefer their own vanities before the truth of God's word. Where such corrupt minds be, there is also corrupt election and choice of God's honour: so that the mind of man taketh falsehood for truth, superstition for true religion, death for life, damnation for salvation, hell for heaven, and persecution of Christ's members for God's service and honour. And as these men wilfully and voluntarily reject the word of God, even so God most justly delivereth them into the blindness of mind and hardness of heart, that they cannot understand, nor yet consent to, any thing that God would have preached and set forth to his glory, after his own will and word: wherefore they hate it mortally, and of all things most detest God's holy word. And as the devil hath entered into their hearts, that they themselves cannot nor will not come to Christ, to be instructed by his holy word even so can they not abide any other man, to be a Christian man, and to lead his life after the word of God; but hate him. persecute him, rob him, imprison him, yea, and kill him, whether it be man or woman, if God suffer it. And so much are these wicked men blinded, that they pass off no law, whether it be God's or man's, but persecute such as never offended; yea, do evil to those that have prayed daily for them, and wish them God's grace.
"In their Pharaonical and blind fury they have no respect to nature. For the brother persecuteth the brother, the father the son; and most dear friends, in devilish slander and offence, are become most mortal enemies. And no marvel; for when they have chosen sundry masters, the one the devil, the other God, the one shall agree with the other, as God and the devil agree between themselves. For this cause (that the more part of the world doth use to serve the devil under cloaked hypocrisy of God's title) Christ said, It is expedient and necessary that scandals should come: and many means be devised to keep the little babes of Christ from the heavenly Father; but Christ saith, Woe be unto him by whom the offence cometh! Yet is there no remedy, man being of such corruption and hatred towards God, but that the evil shall be deceived, and persecute the good; and the good shall understand the truth, and suffer persecution for it, unto the world's end: For as he that was born after the flesh, persecuted in times past him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Therefore, forasmuch as we live in this life amongst so many great perils and dangers, we must be well assured by God's word how to bear them, and how patiently to take them as they be sent to us from God. We must also assure ourselves, that there is no other remedy for Christians in the time of trouble, than Christ himself hath appointed us. In St. Luke he giveth us this commandment: Ye shall possess your lives in patience, saith he. In the which words he giveth us both commandment what to do, and also great comfort and consolation in all troubles. He showeth what is to be done, and what is to be hoped for, in troubles. And, when troubles happen, he biddeth us be patient, and in no case violently nor seditiously to resist our persecutors: because God hath such care and charge of us, that he will keep in the midst of all troubles the very hairs of our head, so that one of them shall not fall away without the will and pleasure of our heavenly Father. Whether the hair, therefore, tarry on the head, or fall from the head, it is the will of the Father. And seeing he hath such care for the hairs of our head, how much more doth he care for our life itself! Wherefore let God's adversaries do what they list, whether they take life or take it not, they can do us no hurt: for their cruelty hath no further power than God permitteth them; and that which cometh unto us by the will of our heavenly Father can be no harm, no loss, neither destruction unto us; but rather gain, wealth, and felicity. For all troubles and adversity that chance to such as be of God, by the will of the heavenly Father, can be none other but gain and advantage.
"That the spirit of man may feel these consolations, the giver of them, the heavenly Father, must be prayed unto, for the merits of Christ's passion: for it is not the nature of man that can be contented, until it be regenerated and possessed by God's Spirit, to bear patiently the troubles of the mind or of the body. When the mind and heart of a man seeth on every side sorrow and heaviness, and the worldly eye beholdeth nothing but such things as be troublous and wholly bent to rob the poor of that he hath, and also to take from him his life: except the man weigh these brittle and uncertain treasures that be taken from him, with the riches of the life to come; and this life of the body, with the life in Christ's precious blood; and so, for the love and certainty of the heavenly joys, contemn all things present -- doubtless he shall never be able to bear the loss of goods, life, or any other thing of this world.
"Therefore St. Paul giveth a godly and necessary lesson to all men in this short and transitory life, and therein showeth how a man may best bear the iniquities and troubles of this world: If ye be risen again with Christ, saith he, seek the things which are above; where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God the Father. Wherefore, the Christian man's faith must be always upon the resurrection of Christ, when he is in trouble; and in that glorious resurrection he shall not only see continual and perpetual joy and consolation, but also the victory and triumph over all persecution, trouble, sin, death, hell, the devil, and all other tyrants and persecutors of Christ and of Christ's people; the tears and weeping of the faithful dried up; their wounds healed; their bodies made immortal in joy; their souls for ever praising the Lord, in conjunction and society everlasting with the blessed company of God's elect, in perpetual joy. But the words of St. Paul in that place, if they be not marked, shall do little profit to the reader or hearer, and give him no patience at all in this impatient and cruel world.
"In this first part St. Paul commandeth us, to think or set our affections on things that are above. When he biddeth us seek the things that are above, he requireth that our minds never cease from prayer and study in God's word, until we see, know, and understand, the vanities of this world; the shortness and misery of this life, and the treasures of the world to come; the immortality thereof, the joys of that life; and so never cease seeking, until such time as we know certainly and be persuaded, what a blessed man he is, that seeketh the one and findeth it, and careth not for the other though he lose it. And in seeking to have right judgment between the life present and the life to come, we shall find how little the pains, imprisonment, slanders, lies, and death itself is, in this world, in respect of pains everlasting, the prison infernal, and dungeon of hell, the sentence of God's just judgment, and everlasting death.
"When a man hath, by seeking the word of God, found out what the things above be, then must he (as St. Paul saith) set his affections upon them. And this commandment is more hard than the other. For man's knowledge many times seeth the best, and knoweth that there is a life to come, better than this life present; as you may see how, daily, men and women can praise and commend, yea, and wish for heaven, and to be at rest there, yet they set not their affection upon it: they do more affect and love indeed a trifle of nothing in this world that pleaseth their affection, than the treasure of all treasures in heaven, which their own judgments saith is better than all worldly things. Wherefore we must set our affections upon the things that be above; that is to say, when any thing, worse than heaven, upon earth, offereth itself to be ours, if we will give our good wills to it, and love it in our hearts, then ought we to see, by the judgment of God's word, whether we may have the world without offence of God, and such things as be for this worldly life without his displeasure. If we cannot, St. Paul's commandment must take place, Set your affections on things that are above. If the riches of this world may not be gotten nor kept by God's law, neither our lives be continued without the denial of his honour, we must set our affection upon the riches and life that is above, and not upon things that be on the earth. Therefore this second commandment of St. Paul requireth, that as our minds judge heavenly things to be better than things upon the earth, and the life to come better than the life present; so we should choose them before other, and prefer them, and have such affection to the best, that in no case we set the worst before it, as the most part of the world doth and hath done; for they choose the best and approve it, and yet follow the worst.
"But these things, my godly wife, require rather cogitation, meditation, and prayer, than words or talk. They be easy to be spoken of, but not so easy to be used and practised. Wherefore, seeing they be God's gifts, and none of ours, to have as our own when we would, we must seek them at our heavenly Father's hand, who seeth and is privy how poor and wretched we be, and how naked, how spoiled and destitute of all his blessed gifts, we be, by reason of sin. He did command therefore his disciples, when he showed them that they should take patiently the state of this present life, full of troubles and persecution, to pray that they might well escape those troubles that were to come, and be able to stand before the Son of man. When you find yourself too much oppressed, (as every man shall be sometimes with the fear of God's judgment,) use the seventy-seventh Psalm, that beginneth, I will cry unto God with my voice, and he shah hearken unto me: in which Psalm is both godly doctrine and great consolation unto the man or woman that is in anguish of mind.
"Use also in such trouble the eighty-eighth Psalm, wherein is contained the prayer of a man that was brought into extreme anguish and misery, and being vexed with adversaries and persecutions, saw nothing but death and hell. And although he felt in himself, that he had not only man, but also God angry towards him, yet he by prayer humbly resorted unto God, as the only port of consolation, and, in the midst of his desperate state of trouble, put the hope of his salvation in him, whom he felt his enemy. Howbeit no man of himself can do this; but the Spirit of God, that striketh the man's heart with fear -- prayeth for the man stricken and feared, with unspeakable groanings. And when you feel yourself, or know any other, oppressed after such sort, be glad; for, after that God hath made you to know what you be of yourself, he will doubtless show you comfort, and declare unto you what you be in Christ his only Son; and use prayer often, for that is the means whereby God will be sought unto for his gifts. These Psalms be for the purpose, when the mind can take no understanding, nor the heart any joy, of God's promises: and therefore were the sixth, twenty-second, thirtieth, thirty-first. thirty-eighth, and sixty-ninth Psalms also made, from the which you shall learn both patience and consolation. Remember, that although your life (as all Christian men's be) be hid, and appeareth not what it is, yet it is safe (as St. Paul saith) with God in Christ: and when Christ shall appear, then shall our lives be made open with him in glory. But, in the mean time, with seeking and setting our affections upon the things that be above, we must patiently suffer whatsoever God shall send unto us in this mortal life. Notwithstanding, it might fortune that some would say, 'Who is so perfect, that can let all things pass as they come, and have no care of them; suffer all things, and feel nothing; be tempted of the devil, the world, and the flesh, and be not troubled?' Verily no man living. But this I say, that, in the strength of Jesus Christ things that come may pass with care, for we be worldly; and yet are we not carried with them from Christ, for we be in him godly. We may suffer things, and feel them as mortal men, yet bear them and overcome them as Christian men. We may be tempted of the devil, the flesh, and the world; but yet, although those things pinch, they do not pierce; and, although they work sin in us, yet in Christ no damnation to those that be grafted in him. Hereof may the Christian man learn both consolation and patience: consolation, in that he is compelled both in his body and goods to feel pain and loss; and in the soul heaviness and anguish of mind: howbeit none of them both shall separate him from the love that God beareth him in Christ. He may learn patience, forasmuch as his enemies both of body and soul, and the pains also they vex us withal for the time, if they tarry with us as long as we live, yet, when death cometh, they shall avoid, and give place to such joys as be prepared for us in Christ: for no pains of the world be perpetual, and whether they shall afflict us for all the time of our mortal life, we know not; for they be servants of God, to go and come as he commandeth them. But we must take heed we meddle not forcibly nor seditiously to put away the persecution appointed unto us by God. Remember Christ's saying, Possess you your lives by your patience. And in this commandment God requireth of every man and woman this patient obedience. He saith not, it is sufficient that other holy patriarchs, prophets, apostles, evangelists, and martyrs, continued their lives in patience, and patient suffering the trouble of this world; but Christ saith to every one of his people, By your own patience ye shall continue your life: not that man hath patience in himself, but that he must have it for himself of God, the only giver of it, if he purpose to be a godly man. Now, therefore, as our profession and religion requireth patience outwardly, without resistance and force; so requireth it patience of the mind, and not to be angry with God, although he use us, that be his own creatures, as him listeth.
"We may not also murmur against God, but say always, his judgments be right and just -- and rejoice that it pleaseth him by troubles to use us, as he used heretofore such as he most loved in this world; and have a singular care to this commandment, Be glad and rejoice; for he showeth great cause why: Your reward, saith he, is great in heaven. These promises of him that is the truth itself shall, by God's grace, work both consolation and patience in the afflicted Christian person. And when our Saviour Christ hath willed men in trouble to be content and patient, because God, in the end of trouble, in Christ hath ordained eternal consolation; he useth also to take from us all shame and rebuke, as though it were not an honour to suffer for Christ, because the wicked world doth curse and abhor such poor troubled Christians. Wherefore Christ placeth all his honourably, and saith, Even so persecuted they the prophets that were before you. We may also see with whom the afflicted for Christ's sake be esteemed, by St. Paul to the Hebrews, whereas the number of the blessed and glorious company of saints appear now to our faith in heaven, in joy; yet, in the letter, for the time of this life, in such pains and contempt as was never more. Let us therefore consider both them, and all other things of the world since the fall of man, and we shall perceive nothing to come to perfection, but with such confusion and disorder to the eye of the world, as though things were rather lost for ever, than like to come to any perfection at all. For of godly men, who ever came to heaven (no not Christ himself) until such time as the world had thought verily that both he and all his had been clean destroyed and cast away as the wise man saith of the wicked people, We thought them to be fools, but they be in peace.
"We may learn by things that nourish and maintain us, both meat and drink, what loathsomeness and (in manner) abhorring they come unto, before they work their perfection in us. From life they are brought to the fire, and clean altered from that they were when they were alive; from the fire to the trencher and knife, and all-to-hacked; from the trencher to the mouth, and as small ground as the teeth can grind them; and from the mouth into the stomach, and there so boiled and digested before they nourish, that whosoever saw the same, would loathe and abhor his own nourishment, before it come to his perfection.
"Is it then any marvel if such Christians as God delighteth in, be so mangled and defaced in this world, which is the kitchen and mill to boil and grind the flesh of God's people in, till they achieve their perfection in the world to come And as a man looketh for the nutriment of his meat when it is full digested, and not before; so must he look for his salvation when he hath passed this troublous world, and not before. Raw flesh is not meat wholesome for man: and unmortified men and women be not creatures meet for God. Therefore Christ saith, that his people must be broken, and all-to-be-torn in the mill of this world; and so shall they be most fine meal unto the heavenly Father. And it shall be a Christian man's part, and the duty of a mind replenished with the Spirit of God, to mark the order of God in all his things; how he dealeth with them, and how they suffer; and be content to let God do his will upon them: as St. Paul saith, They wait until the number of the elect be fulfilled, and never be at rest, but look for the time when God's people shall appear in glory.
"We must therefore patiently suffer, and willingly attend upon God's doings, although they seem clean contrary, after our judgment, to our wealth and salvation; as Abraham did, when he was bid to offer his son Isaac, in whom God promised the blessing and multiplying of his seed. Joseph at the last came to that which God promised him, although in the mean time, after the judgment of the world, he was never like to be (as God said he should be) lord over his brethren. When Christ would make the blind man to see, he put clay upon his eyes, which, after the judgment of man, was a means rather to make him doubly blind, than to give him his sight; but he obeyed, and knew that God could work his desire, what means soever he used contrary to man's reason. And as touching this world, he useth all his after the same sort. If any smart, his people be the first; if any suffer shame, they begin; if any be subject to slander, it is those that he loveth: so that he showeth no face or favour, nor love almost in this world outwardly to them, but layeth clay upon their sore eyes that be sorrowful: yet the patient man seeth, as St. Paul saith, life hid under these miseries and adversities, and sight under foul clay; and in the mean time he hath the testimony of a good conscience, and believeth God's promises to be his consolation in the world to come; which is more worth unto him, than all the world is worth besides: and blessed is that man in whom God's Spirit beareth record, that he is the Son of God, whatsoever troubles he suffer in this troublesome world.
"And to judge things indifferently, my good wife, the troubles be not yet generally, as they were in our good fathers' time, soon after the death and resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ, whereof he spake in St. Matthew: of the which place you and I have taken many times great consolation, and especially of the latter part of the chapter, wherein is contained the last day and end of all troubles (I doubt not) both for you and me, and for such as love the coming of our Saviour Christ to judgment. Remember therefore that place, and mark it again, and ye shall in this time see this great consolation, and also learn much patience. Were there ever such troubles, as Christ threatened upon Jerusalem? Was there since the beginning of the world such affliction? Who was then best at ease? The apostles, that suffered in body persecution, and gathered of it ease and quietness in the promises of God. And no marvel, for Christ saith, Lift up your heads, for your redemption is at hand; that is to say, your eternal rest approacheth and draweth near. The world is stark blind, and more foolish than foolishness itself, and so be the pcople of the world. For when God saith, Trouble shall come, they will have ease. And when God saith. Be merry and rejoice in trouble, we lament and mourn, as though we were cast-a-ways. But this our flesh (which is never merry with virtue, nor sorry with vice; never laugheth with grace, nor ever weepeth with sin) holdeth fast with the world, and letteth God slip. But, my dearly beloved wife, you know how to perceive and to beware of the vanity and crafts of the devil well enough in Christ. And that ye may the better have patience in the Spirit of God, read again the twenty-fourth chapter of St. Matthew, and mark what difference is between the destruction of Jerusalem and the destruction of the whole world, and you shall see, that then here were left alive many offenders to repent; but, at the latter day, there shall be absolute judgment, and sentence (never to be revoked) of eternal life and eternal death upon all men; and yet, towards the end of the world, we have nothing so much extremity as they had then, but even as we be able to bear. So doth the merciful Father lay upon us now imprisonment (and I suppose, for my part, shortly death); now spoil of goods, loss of friends, and the greatest loss of all, the knowledge of God's word. God's will be done. I wish in Christ Jesus, our only Mediator and Saviour, your constancy and consolation, that you may live for ever and ever, whereof in Christ I doubt not; to whom, for his most blessed and painful passion, I commit you. Amen.
"October the thirteenth, A. D. 1553."
To a certain godly woman, instructing her how she should behave herself in the time of her widowhood.
"The grace of God and the comfort of his Holy Spirit be with you, and all them that unfeignedly love his holy gospel. Amen.
"I thank you, dear sister, for your most loving remembrance; and, although I cannot recompense the same, yet do I wish, with all my heart, that God would do it, requiring you not to forget your duty towards God in these perilous days, in the which the Lord will try us. I trust you do increase, by reading of the Scriptures, the knowledge you have of God; and that you diligently apply yourself to follow the same: for the knowledge helpeth not, except the life be according thereunto. Further, I do heartily pray you, to consider the state of your widowhood, and if God shall put in your mind to change it, remember the saying of St. Paul, It is lawful for the widow or maiden to marry to whom they list, so it be in the Lord; that is to say, to such a one as is of Christ's religion. Dearly beloved in Christ, remember these words, for you shall find thereby great joy and comfort, if you change your state. Whereof I will, when I have better leisure, (as now I have none at all,) further advertise you. In the mean time I commend you to God, and the guiding of his good Spirit, who stablish and confirm you in all well-doing, and keep you blameless to the day of the Lord! Watch and pray, for this day is at hand.
"Yours assured in Christ,
To all my dear brethren, my relievers and helpers in the city of London.
"The grace of God be with you, Amen. I have received from you, dearly beloved in our Saviour Jesus Christ, by the hands of my servant William Downton, your liberality, for the which I most heartily thank you, and I praise God highly in you and for you, who hath moved your hearts to show this kindness towards me; praying him to preserve you from all famine, scarcity, and lack of the truth of his word, which is the lively food of your souls, as you preserve my body from hunger and other necessities which should happen unto me, were it not cared for by the benevolence and charity of godly people. Such as have taken all worldly goods and lands from me, and spoiled me of all that I had, have imprisoned my body, and appointed not one halfpenny to feed or relieve me withal: but I do forgive them, and pray for them daily in my poor prayer unto God; and from my heart I wish their salvation, and quietly and patiently bear their injuries, wishing no further extremity to be used towards us. Yet, if the contrary seem best unto our heavenly Father, I have made my reckoning, and fully resolved myself to suffer the uttermost that they are able to do against me, yea, death itself, by the aid of Christ Jesus, who died the most vile death of the cross for us wretches and miserable sinners. But of this I am assured, that the wicked world, with all its force and power, shall not touch one of the hairs of our heads without leave and licence of our heavenly Father, whose will be done in all things. If he will life, life be it: if he will death, death be it. Only we pray, that our wills may be subject unto his will; and then, although both we and all the world see none other thing but death, yet if he think life best, we shall not die -- no, although the sword be drawn out over our heads: as Abraham thought to kill his son Isaac, yet, when God perceived that Abraham had surrendered his will to God's will, and was content to kill his son, God then saved his son.
"Dearly beloved, if we be contented to obey God's will, and for his commandment's sake to surrender our goods and our lives to be at his pleasure, it maketh no matter whether we keep goods and life, or lose them. Nothing can hurt us that is taken from us for God's cause, nor can any thing at length do us good that is preserved contrary unto God's commandment. Let us wholly suffer God to use us and ours after his holy wisdom, and beware we neither use nor govern ourselves contrary to his will by our own wisdom; for if we do, our wisdom will at length prove foolishness. It is kept to no good purpose, that we keep contrary unto his commandments. That can by no means be taken from us, which he would should tarry with us. He is no good Christian that ruleth himself and his, as worldly means serve: for he that so doth, shall have as many changes as chance in the world. To-day with the world he shall like and praise the truth of God; to-morrow as the world will, so will he like and praise the falsehood of man: to-day with Christ, and to-morrow with antichrist. Wherefore, dear brethren, as touching your behaviour towards God, use both your inward spirits and your outward bodies, your inward and your outward man, (I say,) not after the manner of men, but after the infallible word of God.
"Refrain from evil in both; and glorify your heavenly Father in both. For if ye think ye can inwardly in the heart serve him, and yet outwardly serve with the world, in external service, the thing that is not God, ye deceive yourselves; for both the body and the soul must together concur in the honour of God, as St. Paul plainly teacheth. For if an honest wife be bound to give both heart and body to faith and service in marriage, and if an honest wife's faith in the heart cannot stand with an unchaste or defiled body outwardly; much less can the true faith of a Christian, in the service of Christianity, stand with the bodily service of external idolatry; for the mystery of marriage is not so honourable between man and wife, as it is between Christ and every Christian man, as St. Paul saith.
"Therefore, dear brethren, pray to the heavenly Father, that as he spared not the soul nor the body of his dearly beloved Son, but applied both of them with extreme pain, to work our salvation both of body and soul; so he will give us all grace to apply our bodies and souls to be servants unto him: for doubtless he requireth as well the one as the other, and cannot be discontented with the one, and well pleased with the other. Either he hateth both, or loveth both; he divideth not his love to one, and his hatred to the other. Let not us therefore, good brethren, divide ourselves, and say our souls serve him, whatsoever our bodies do to the contrary for civil order and policy.
"But, alas! I know by myself, what troubleth you; that is, the great danger of the world, that will revenge, ye think, your service to God with sword and fire, with loss of goods and lands. But, dear brethren, weigh of the other side, that your enemies and God's enemies shall not do so much as they would, but as much as God shall suffer them, who can trap them in their own counsels, and destroy them in the midst of their furies. Remember ye be the workmen of the Lord, and called into his vineyard, there to labour till evening-tide, that you may receive your penny, which is more worth than all the kingdoms of the earth. But he that calleth us into his vineyard, hath not told us how sore and how fervently the sun shall trouble us in our labour; but hath bid us labour, and commit the bitterness thereof unto him, who can and will so moderate all afflictions, that no man shall have more laid upon him, than in Christ lie shall be able to bear. Unto whose merciful tuition and defence I commend both your souls and bodies.
"September the second, anno 1554.
"Yours, with my poor prayer,
To a merchant of London, by whose means he had received much comfort in his great necessity in the Fleet.
"Grace, mercy, and peace, in Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God and you for the great help and consolation I have received in the time of adversity by your charitable means; but most rejoice that you be not altered from truth, although falsehood cruelly seeketh to distain her. Judge not, my brother, truth by outward appearance; for truth now worse appeareth, and more vilely is rejected, than falsehood. Leave the outward show, and see, by the word of God, what truth is; and accept truth, and dislike her not, though man call her falsehood. As it is now, so it hath been heretofore, the truth rejected and falsehood received. Such as have professed truth, for truth have smarted, and the friends of falsehood laughed them to scorn. The trial of both hath been by contrary success; the one having the commendation of truth by man, but the condemnation of falsehood by God; flourishing for a time, wifh endless destruction: the other afflicted a little season, but ending with immortal joys. Wherefore, dear brother, ask and demand of your book, the Testament of Jesus Christ, in those woeful and wretched days, what you should think, and what you should stay upon for a certain truth; and whatsoever you hear taught, try it by your book, whether it be true or false. The days be dangerous and full of peril, not only for the world and worldly things, but for heaven and heavenly things. It is a trouble to lose the treasure of this life, but yet a very pain, if it be kept with the offence of God. Cry, call, pray; and in Christ daily require help, succour, mercy, wisdom, grace, and defence, that the wickedness of this world prevail not against us. We began well, God preserve us until the end. I would write more often unto you, but I do perceive you be at so much charges with me, that I fear you would think when I write I crave. Send me nothing till I send to you for it; and so tell the good men, your partners: and when I need, I will be bold with you.
"December the third, anno 1554.
"Yours, with my prayer,
To Mistress Wilkinson, a woman hearty in God's cause, and comfortable to his afflicted members: afterwards dying in exile at Frankfort.
"The grace of God, and the comfort of his Holy Spirit, be with you. Amen.
"I am very glad to hear of your health, and do thank you for your loving tokens. But I am a great deal more glad to hear how Christianly you avoid idolatry, and prepare yourself to suffer the extremity of the world, rather than to endanger yourself to God. You do as you ought to do in this behalf; and in suffering of transitory pains, you shall avoid permanent torments in the world to come. Use your life, and keep it with as much quietness as you can, so that you offend not God. The ease that cometh of his displeasure, turneth at length to unspeakable pains; and the gains of the world, with the loss of his favour, is beggary and wretchedness. Reason is to be amended in this cause of religion: for it will choose and follow an error with the multitude, if it may be allowed, rather than turn to faith, and follow the truth with the people of God. Moses found the same fault in himself, and did amend it, choosing rather to be afflicted with the people of God, than to use the liberty of the king's daughter, that accounted him as her son. Pray for contentation and peace of the Spirit, and rejoice in such troubles as shall happen to you for the truth's sake: for in that part Christ saith, you be happy. Pray also for me, I pray you, that I may do in all things the will of our heavenly Father: to whose tuition and defence I commend you."
To my dear friends in God, Master John Hall and his wife, exhorting them to stand fast in the truth.
"The grace of God be with you, Amen. I thank you for your loving and gentle friendship at all times, praying to God to show unto you such favour, that whatsoever trouble and adversity happen, ye go not back from him. These days be dangerous and full of peril; but yet let us comfort ourselves in calling to remembrance the days of our forefathers, upon whom the Lord sent such troubles, that many hundreds, yea, many thousands, died for the testimony of Jesus Christ, both men and women, suffering with patience and constancy as much cruelty as tyrants could devise, and so departed out of this miserable world to the bliss everlasting, where now they remain for ever; looking always for the end of this sinful world, when they shall receive their bodies again in immortality, and see the number of the elect associated with them in full and consummate joys: and, as virtuous men suffering martyrdom, and tarrying a little while in this world with pains, by and by rested in joys everlasting; and as their pains ended their sorrows, and began ease, so did their constancy and stedfastness animate and confirm all good people in the truth, and gave them encouragement and lust to suffer the like, rather than to fall with the world to consent unto wickedness and idolatry. Wherefore, my dear friends, seeing God, of his part, hath illuminated you with the same gift and knowledge of true faith, wherein the apostles and evangelists, and all martyrs, suffered most cruel death; thank him for his grace in knowledge, and pray unto him for strength and perseverance, that through your own fault ye be not ashamed or afraid to confess it. Yet ye be in the truth, and the gates of hell shall never prevail against it, nor antichrist with all his imps can prove it to be false. They may kill and persecute, but never overcome. Be of good comfort, and fear God more than man. This life is short and miserable; happy be they that can spend it to the glory of God. Pray for me, as I do for you, and commend me to all good men and women.
"December the twenty-second, anno 1554.
Your brother in Christ,
To my dearly beloved sister in the Lord, Mistress Anne Warcop.
"The grace of God be with you, Amen. I thank you for your loving token. I pray you burden not yourself too much. It were meet for me rather to bear a pain, than to be a hinderance to many. I did rejoice at the coming of this bearer, to understand of your constancy, and how that you be fully resolved, by God's grace, rather to suffer extremity, than to go from the truth of God which you have professed. He that gave you grace to begin so infallible a truth, will follow you in the same unto the end. But, my loving sister, as you be travelling this perilous journey, take this lesson with you, practised by wise men; whereof you may read in the second of St. Matthew's Gospel. Such as travelled to find Christ, followed only the star; and as long as they saw it, they were assured they were in the right way, and had great mirth in their journey. But when they entered into Jerusalem (whereas the star led them not thither, but unto Bethlehem) and there asked the citizens the thing that the star showed before; as long as they tarried in Jerusalem, and would be instructed where Christ was born, they were not only ignorant of Bethlehem, but also lost the sight of the star that led them before. Whereof we learn, in any case, whilst we be going in this life to seek Christ, that is above, to beware that we lose not the star of God's word, that only is the mark that showeth us where Christ is, and which way we may come unto him. But as Jerusalem stood in the way, and was an impediment to these wise men; so doth the synagogue of antichrist, that beareth the name of Jerusalem, which by interpretation is called the vision of peace, and amongst the people now is called the catholic church, stand in the way that pilgrims must go by through this world to Bethlehem, the house of saturity and plentifulness, and is an impediment to all Christian travellers; yea, and except the more grace of God be, will keep the pilgrims still in her, that they shall not come where Christ is at all. And to stay them indeed, they take away the star of light, which is God's word, that it cannot be seen: as you may see how the celestial star was hid from the wise men, when they asked of the Pharisees at Jerusalem, where Christ was born. Ye may see what great dangers happened unto these wise men, whilst they were learning of liars where Christ was. First, they were out of their way, and next they lost their guide and conductor, the heavenly star. Christ is mounted from us into heaven, and there we seek him (as we say); and let us go thitherward by the star of his word. Beware we happen not to come into Jerusalem, the church of men, and ask for him. If we do, we go out of the way, and lose also our conductor and guide, that only leadeth us straight thither.
"The poets write in fables, that Jason, when he fought with the dragon in the isle of Colchis, was preserved by the medicines of Medea, and so won the golden fleece. And they write also that Phaeton, whom they feign to be the son and heir of the high god Jupiter, would needs upon a day have the conduction of the sun round about the world; but, as they feigned, he missed of the accustomed course: whereupon when he went too high, he burned heaven, and when he went too low, he burned the earth and the water. These profane histories do shame us that be Christian men. Jason, against the poison of the dragon, used only the medicine of Medea. What a shame is it for a Christian man, against the poison of the devil, heresy, and sin, to use any other remedy than Christ and his word! Phaeton, for lack of knowledge, was afraid of every sign of the zodiac, that the sun passeth by: wherefore he went now too low, and now too high, and at length fell down and drowned himself in the sea. Christian men for lack of knowledge, and for fear of such dangers as Christian men must needs pass by, go clean out of order, and at length fall into the pit of hell.
"Sister, take heed! you shall, in your journey towards heaven, meet with many a monstrous beast: have salve of God's word therefore ready. You shall meet husband, children, lovers, and friends, that shall, if God be not with them, (as God be praised he is, I would it were with all other alike,) be very lets and impediments to your purpose. You shall meet with slander and contempt of the world, and be accounted ungracious and ungodly; you shall hear and meet with cruel tyranny to do you all extremities; you shall now and then see the troubles of your own conscience, and feel your own weakness; you shall hear that you be cursed by the sentence of the catholic church, with such-like terrors: but pray to God, and follow the star of his word, and you shall arrive at the port of eternal salvation, by the merits only of Jesus Christ: to whom I commend you and all yours most heartily.
"Yours in Christ,
Unto these letters of Master Hoopcr heretofore recited, we thought not inconvenient to annex also another certain epistle, not of Master Hooper's, but written to him by a famous learned man, Henry Bullinger, chief superintendent in the city of Zurich: of whose singular love and tender affection toward Master Hooper ye heard before in the beginning of Master Hooper's life discoursed. Now how loving he writeth unto him, ye shall hear by this present letter, as followeth.
A letter of Master Bullinger to the most reverend father, Master John Hooper, bishop of Worcester and Gloucester, and now prisoner for the gospel of Jesus Christ, my fellow elder and most dear brother in England.
"The heavenly Father grant unto you, and to all those who are in bands and captivity for his name's sake, grace and peace though Jesus Christ our Lord, with wisdom, patience, and fortitude of the Holy Ghost.
"I have received from you two letters, my most dear brother, the former in the month of September of the year past, the latter in the month of May of this present year, both written out of prison. But I, doubting lest I should make answer to you in vain, whilst I feared that my letters should never come into your hands, or else increase and double your sorrow, did refrain from the duty of writing. In the which thing I doubt not but you will have me excused, especially seeing you did not vouchsafe, no not once in a whole year, to answer to my whole libels rather than letters; whereas I continued still notwithstanding in writing unto you: as also at this present, after I heard you were cast in prison, I did not refrain from continual prayer, beseeching our heavenly Father, through our only Mediator Jesus Christ, to grant unto you, and to your fellow prisoners, faith and constancy unto the end. Now is that thing happened unto you, my brother, the which we did oftentimes prophesy unto ourselves, at your being with us, should come to pass; especially when we did talk of the power of antichrist, and of his felicity and victories. For you know the saying of Daniel, His power shall be mighty, but not in his strength; and he shall wonderfully destroy and make havoc of all things, and shall prosper and practise, and he shall destroy the mighty and the holy people after his own will. You know what the Lord warned us of beforehand by Matthew, chap. x., by John, in chap. xv. and xvi., and also what that chosen vessel St. Paul hath written, in 2 Tim. iii. Wherefore I do nothing doubt, by God's grace, of your faith and patience, whilst you know that those things which you suffer are not asked for, nor come by chance; but that you suffer them in the best, truest, and most holy quarrel: for what can be more true and holy than our doctrine, which the papists, those worshippers of antichrist, do persecute? All things touching salvation we attribute unto Christ alone, and to his holy institutions, as we have been taught of him and of his disciples; but they would have even the same things to be communicated as well to their antichrist, and to his institutions. Such we ought no less to withstand than we read that Elias withstood the Baalites. For if Jesus be Christ, then let them know, that he is the fulness of his church, and that perfectly: but if antichrist be king and priest, then let them exhibit unto him that honour. How long do they halt on both sides? Can they give unto us any one that is better than Christ, or who shall be equal with Christ, that may be compared with him, except it be he whom the apostle calleth the adversary? But if Christ be sufficient for his chnrch, what needeth this patching and piecing? But I know well enough, I need not to use these disputations with you which are sincerely taught, and have taken root in Christ, being persuaded that you have all things in him, and that we in him are made perfect.
"Go forwards therefore constantly to confess Christ, and to defy antichrist, being mindful of this most holy and most true saying of our Lord Jesus Christ: He that overcometh shall possess all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son: but the fearful, and the unbelieving, and the murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. The first death is soon overcome, although a man must burn for the Lord's sake: for they say well that do affirm this our fire to be scarcely a shadow of that which is prepared for unbelievers, and them that fall from the truth. Moreover, the Lord granteth unto us, that we may easily overcome, by his power, the first death, the which he himself did taste and overcome; promising withal such joys as never shall have end, unspeakable, and passing all understanding, the which we shall possess so soon as ever we do depart hence. For so again saith the angel of the Lord: If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or on his hand, the same shall drink of the wrath of God; yea, of the wine which is poured into the cup of his wrath: and he shall be tormented in fire and brimstone before the holy angels, and before the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment shall ascend evermore; and they shall have no rest, day nor night, which worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the print of his name. Here is the patience of saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. To this he added by and by, I heard a voice saying to me, Write, Blessed be the dead that die in the Lord; from henceforth, or speedily, they be blessed: Even so, saith the Spirit; for they rest from their labours, but their works follow them: for our labour shall not be frustrate or in vain.
"Therefore, seeing you have such a large promise, be strong in the Lord, fight a good fight, be faithful to the Lord unto the end. Consider that Christ, the Son of God, is your Captain, and fighteth for you, and that all the prophets, apostles, and martyrs are your fellow soldiers. They that persecute and trouble us, are men sinful and mortal, whose favour a wise man would not buy with the value of a farthing: and, besides that, our life is frail, short, brittle, and transitory. Happy are we, if we depart in the Lord; who grant unto you, and to all your fellow prisoners, faith and constancy! Commend me to the most reverend fathers and holy confessors of Christ, Dr. Cranmer, bishop of Canterbury, Dr. Ridley, bishop of London, and the good old father Dr. Latimer. Them, and all the rest of the prisoners with you for the Lord's cause, salute in my name, and in the name of all my fellow ministers, the which do speak unto you the grace of God, and constancy in the truth.
"Concerning the state of our church. it remaineth even as it was when you departed from us into your country. God grant we may be thankful to him, and that we do not only profess the faith with words, but also express the same effectually with good works, to the praise of our Lord
"The word of God increaseth daily in that part of Italy that is near unto us, and in France.
"In the mean while the godly sustain grievons persecutions, and, with great constancy and glory, through torments they go unto the Lord. I and all my household, with my sons-in-law and kinsmen, are in good health in the Lord. They do all salute you, and pray for your constancy; being sorrowful for you and the rest of the prisoners. There came to us Englishmen; students, both godly and learned. They be received of our magistrate. Ten of them dwell together; the rest remain here and there with good men. Amongst others, Master Thomas Lever is dear unto me, and familiar. If there be any thing wherein I may do any pleasure to your wife and children, they shall have me wholly at commandment; whereof I will write also to your wife, for understand she abideth at Frankfort.
"Be strong and merry in Christ, waiting for his deliverance, when and in what sort it shall seem good unto him. The Lord Jesus show pity upon the realm of England, and illuminate the same with his Holy Spirit, to the glory of his name, and the salvation of souls. The Lord Jesus preserve and deliver you from all evil, with all them that call upon his name. Farewell, and farewell eternally.
"The tenth of October, anno 1554. From Zurich.
"You know the hand, H. B."